Pennsylvania plans to pilot a program that would see teens’ smartphones locked away during the school day: Report

Pennsylvania has become the first state to spearhead a program for students to have their smartphones locked away during the school day, according to the Daily Mail. Republican Senator Ryan Aument, of the Pennsylvania State Senate, sponsored the bill.

Aument said that smartphones present a big distraction for students when it comes to learning in school, adding that smartphones also play a role in students’ mental health. Consequently, the Pennsylvania Senate Education Committee has agreed to pilot a grant program that will provide certain schools throughout the state with lockable bags that will hold students’ smartphones until the end of the school day.

‘I can’t think of another issue I worked on in the 14 years I’ve been here that’s resonated quite like this has.’

The grant program would also give education employees locks to store smartphones in as well, per the report. Additionally, the proposed legislation would implement a performance review of the smartphone storage plan, monitoring and tracking academic achievement and students’ mental health over two years to see how effective the program is.

“I can’t think of another issue I worked on in the 14 years I’ve been here that’s resonated quite like this has,” Aument said earlier this week.

“I just think it’s critically important that we free our kids from these devices for six and a half hours during the school day and the response we’ve gotten from parents and the response we’ve gotten from educators has been overwhelmingly positive,” he continued.

“There’s been compelling data and research that’s been done that points to the decline in student mental health and student academic performance, student physical health and a direct correlation and strong evidence of direct causation with the rise of smartphone access among adolescents and social media access to adolescents.”

The name of the proposed bill is the Cell Phone Lockable Bag Pilot Program. And the schools that are to take part in this program would have a policy that bars the use of smartphones during school time. However, there are exceptions, such as students who have a documented medical condition that requires the use of a phone, such as diabetes.

The Pew Research Center found that the average American teenager spent about three and a half hours per day on social media in 2023. Justin Neideigh, a high school teacher, said he has found positive outcomes with students who have smartphone usage limited throughout the school day.

“Bullying, cyber bullying, sexting, all these TikTok trends, all of this stuff that was never in the classroom before, is now,” Neideigh added.

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