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LA Unified School District Bans Phones, Social Media For Students Starting 2025


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The Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD), the second-largest school district in the U.S., has made a significant move by voting to ban cellphone and social media use for its 429,000 K-12 students during school days. This decision, made with a 5 to 2 vote on Tuesday morning, follows U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Vivek H. Murthy’s call for warning labels on social media platforms, akin to those on cigarette packs.

Jessica Quindel, a math teacher at Venice High School, expressed strong support for the ban, highlighting the difficulties teachers face in managing students’ smartphone use. She described it as an “uphill battle,” likening the effort to “running a nonstop marathon.” Quindel remarked, “It takes a lot of energy and it’s really hard to keep up.”

Following the vote, LAUSD has 120 days to develop and present updated cellphone and social media policies, set to be implemented by the spring semester of the 2024-2025 school year. These new policies will prohibit students from using cellphones and social media during school hours. Possible methods under consideration include locked pouches, cellphone lockers, and technological solutions. The policies will be shaped by best practices and input from experts, labor partners, staff, students, and parents.

In developing these policies, LAUSD will take into account students who rely on cellphones for translation purposes and will evaluate the implications of social media use among youth. Medical experts, parents, teachers, and administrators have raised concerns about the negative impact of social media on children and adolescents. Dr. Murthy, in his op-ed, pointed to the mental health crisis among young people, identifying social media as a significant factor contributing to increased anxiety and depression. He noted that teens reported spending nearly five hours a day on social media last summer.

Murthy also suggested implementing digital warning labels for social media, similar to those used for tobacco and alcohol. On “GMA3,” he explained that these labels would appear regularly during social media use and would be scientifically tested for effectiveness, pending congressional authorization. He emphasized that similar labels have successfully raised awareness and changed behavior in the case of tobacco.

LAUSD’s initiative is part of a broader trend of schools banning phones. For example, the Manchester Public School District in Connecticut already mandates that students lock their cellphones in secure pouches until the end of the school day. With LAUSD banning cell phones and social media, this policy aims to create a more focused and less distracted learning environment, addressing growing concerns over the adverse effects of digital device usage during school hours.

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