Utah Governor Urges Schools to Ban Cellphones During Class Time

Concerned about the impact of social media on children, Governor Spencer Cox of Utah has announced his support for schools to implement cellphone-free policies in their classrooms. In a news release, Cox’s office stated that he has sent letters to school leaders, principals, community council members, and the State Board of Education, expressing his concerns and requesting the removal of cellphones during class time. According to Cox, eliminating cellphones as a source of distraction will enhance the teaching and learning experience for both teachers and students.

Cox emphasized the importance of providing schools with every opportunity to succeed and hopes that Utah’s public and charter schools will join him in this effort. However, his spokeswoman clarified that he is not advocating for teachers to confiscate cellphones during class. Instead, he encourages schools and districts to adopt cellphone-free policies and recommends that educators collaborate with parents to develop effective cellphone guidelines.

Utah is currently involved in lawsuits against social media companies, including Meta and TikTok, alleging that their platforms are addictive and mentally harmful to children. Additionally, Utah became the first state to pass legislation last year, prohibiting minors from using social media between 10:30 p.m. and 6:30 a.m. without parental authorization. These laws, effective from March 1, also require age verification for opening and maintaining social media accounts within the state.

In response to these concerns, many schools in Utah have already implemented cellphone restrictions. Notably, Delta High School and Millard School District have adopted a “cellphone-free” policy where students must place their phones in a clear pocket displayed in front of the classroom. Vice Principal Jared Christensen expressed satisfaction with the policy’s positive impact on students, parents, and teachers. Cox’s office also highlighted the support from Evergreen Junior High in Granite School District, where cellphones are not allowed to be out during the entire school day. Principal Ryan Shaw attributed their success to proactive parent education about the benefits of the cellphone policy.

These school experiences align with social psychologist Jonathan Haidt’s article titled “The Case for Phone-Free Schools,” which emphasizes the detrimental effects of smartphones on attention, learning, relationships, and belonging.

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