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Los Angeles School Board Bans Smartphones, Social Media in Schools

Los Angeles School Board Bans Smartphones, Social Media in Schools

The Los Angeles Unified School District Board of Education has voted to prohibit student use of smartphones and social media during school hours. The new policy, aimed at addressing mental health concerns and distractions in the classroom, is expected to be officially unveiled within the next four months and implemented by January 2025.

Impact of the LA Social Media Ban

This ban will affect approximately 429,000 students in the district. Previously, the district's cellphone policy hadn't been updated since 2011, and the social media policy was established in 2018. The latest memorandum suggests that the school district may also limit internet access on school devices to block social media platforms. However, there will be some exemptions for specific smartphone uses, and policies might vary for smaller devices like smartwatches or phones with limited capabilities such as text and voice-only functions.

Reasons for the Smart Phone Ban in LA

The school board argues that cellphones are not only distractions but also detrimental to students' mental health, contributing to increased stress, anxiety, depression, sleep issues, aggression, and suicidal thoughts. According to Pew Research, 72% of US high school teachers consider cellphones a significant problem in classrooms.

Support and Opposition to the LA Cellphone Ban

Board member Nick Melvoin, who proposed the resolution, believes this policy will place Los Angeles at the forefront of addressing these issues. "I think we're going to be on the vanguard here, and students and this entire city and country are going to benefit as a result," Melvoin told Reuters.

The board voted 5-2 in favor of the ban, with board members Scott Schmerelson and George McKenna opposing it. Schmerelson expressed concerns about effectively enforcing the ban, stating, "I think it's going to be a full-time job being the police of the phone."

Broader Context

The Washington Post reported last year that most US schools already restrict non-academic cellphone use during school hours, though enforcement has been challenging. States like Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Florida have also implemented similar restrictions or bans. Following the LA school board's vote, California Governor Gavin Newsom has called for a statewide smartphone ban in schools.

Earlier this week, the US Surgeon General published an essay highlighting the potential harms of social media on adolescent mental health, suggesting that social media apps and sites should carry warning labels similar to those on cigarette packages. However, the specifics of such labels and their enforcement remain unclear.

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