Proposed Bill could Ban Smartphone Usage at School


Troy Gamurot

Senior Ira Obillo sends a text after school.

Troy Gamurot, Journalist

A new bill introduced to California’s legislature could lead to the prohibition of smartphones at school.

Assembly Bill 272, proposed by Assemblyman Al Muratsuchi, was created in hopes of reducing distractions in the classroom and improving student achievement. As the bill reads, “There is growing evidence that unrestricted use of smartphones by pupils at elementary and secondary schools during the schoolday interferes with the educational mission of the schools, lowers pupil performance, particularly among low-achieving pupils, promotes cyberbullying, and contributes to an increase in teenage anxiety, depression, and suicide.”

The bill is not specific in its ideas to limit phone usage as it is created primarily as a guide for school districts to follow. While every school district will be explicitly authorized to enforce phone limitations, every district is given the power to adopt a policy best fit for their schools’ environments.

According to the Los Angeles Times, in a statement released by Muratsuchi after introducing the bill, “To the extent that smartphones are becoming too much of a distraction in the classroom, I think every school community needs to have that conversation as to when is too much of a good thing getting in the way of educational and social development.”

While this bill is meant to encourage school districts to create new rules and regulations regarding smartphones, Muratsuchi himself acknowledges that many school districts have already limited cell phone usage at their schools.

Reflecting on the bill and how it may affect our own school and school district, Dr. Elder stated that he both liked and disliked the proposed bill. While he does believe that smartphones afford students with the great convenience of texting their parents whenever needed, Dr. Elder commented that, “The reason I like it is because cell phones are already a big distraction during class. I can’t recall a single instance where Mrs. Hatcher walked in and didn’t take someone’s phone.”

When asked about how effective he believes this bill would be in its goals, Dr. Elder remarked that, “No, because what are you going to do? It’s hard enough to enforce it right now,” referring to our school’s current policies on phones. “What we have now doesn’t prevent kids from having their phones out.”

Despite this, Dr. Elder thinks that the legislation could still be effective in having kids pay attention more. However, he believes that students would instead turn to more traditional methods of distraction, “I think that students would go back to passing notes and such.” Believing that there are more effective ways of achieving the same goal, Dr. Elder suggested that a better solution would be to block data usage at school.

While the bill is still being read and reevaluated, the effect it may have is already in question and concern. Regardless, Muratsuchi’s hopes for the bill are well in intent and may ultimately help in resolving the issues presented in the bill. Only time will tell.