SACRAMENTO (CBS13) – The proposal to ban students from using smart phones at school or on school grounds unanimously passed the California Assembly Thursday with some provisions to the original bill.

Assembly Bill 272 asks that all school districts, county offices of education, and charter schools come up with smart phone policies to limit or prohibit student use at school. The bill does allow for certain allowances, including:

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  • In the case of an emergency, or in response to a perceived threat of danger.
  • When a teacher or administrator of the school district, county office of education, or charter school grants permission to a pupil to possess or use a smartphone, subject to any reasonable limitation imposed by that teacher or administrator.
  • When a licensed physician or surgeon determines that the possession or use of a smartphone is necessary for the health or well-being of the pupil.
  • When the possession or use of a smartphone is required by a pupil’s individualized education program.

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The bill’s author, Assemblymember Al Muratsuchi (D- Torrance), said, “Cell phones can be a distraction in the classroom, and there are social and emotional consequences to too much use. According to studies, kids who are heavy users of social media are showing signs of depression and other mental health problems in greater numbers. Studies have also shown that restricting cell phone use improves pupil performance.”

According to the bill analysis,

“A 2015 Discussion Paper from the London School of Economics and Political Science, Center for Economic Performance, “Ill Communication: Technology, Distraction and Student Performance” studied four English city school systems that had banned cell phone use in schools in 2013. The authors of the paper found that student test scores improved by 6.41% of a standard deviation when schools banned cell phone use. The effect was driven by the most disadvantaged and underachieving pupils. The results suggest that low-achieving students are more likely to be distracted by the presence of mobile phones, while high achievers can focus in the classroom regardless of the mobile phone policy.”

A Pew Research Center study conducted in 2018 found 95% of teens have access to a smartphone, a 22% increase since 2014-15.

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A psychology professor at San Diego State University found in 2017: “8th grade pupils who spend 10 or more hours per week on social media are 56% more likely to describe themselves as unhappy than those who devote less time to social media. Moreover, teenagers who spend three hours per day or more on electronic devices are 35% more likely to demonstrate risk factors for suicide, such as suicidal ideation; and, teenagers who spend five or more hours per day on their devices are 71% more likely to demonstrate a risk factor for suicide.”

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According to a study done by Common Sense Media, 13-18-year-olds spend:

  • 8:56 a day consuming entertainment on TV, computer, smartphone
  • 6:40 a day of screen media

8-12-year-olds spend:

  • 5:55 a day consuming entertainment on TV, computer, smartphone
  • 4:36 of screen media

AB 272 previously passed the Asm. Education Committee unanimously in April.

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