New bill would require California schools to restrict, ban students using smartphones

File photo -- A new bill introduced Wednesday would require school adminstrators to restrict or ban smartphone usage at schools. (Photo by Matt Cardy/Getty Images)

California schools may soon have to change their cell phone policy for students under a new bill that highlights the impact devices potentially have on an institution’s educational path. 

Assembly member Albert Muratsuchi proposed the measure on Wednesday, which would require school administrators to adopt a policy to limit or halt the use of smartphones while on campus or under the supervision of school employees. Muratsuchi said smartphones can hinder students’ growth by interfering with a school's mission. 

"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," he said, according the LA Times

Existing law already gives schools the opportunity to enforce a ban or limit smartphone usage, but the new measure would require that changes be made. 

The Assemblyman cited a 2015 study published by the London School of Economics and Political Science that found test scores reportedly improved significantly at schools that banned mobile phone use. He additionally pointed to France for a more recent example. 

Muratsuchi highlighted the country’s September 2018 nationwide smartphone ban in elementary and middle schools “to promote pupil achievement and healthy social development.”

Finally, the bill cited the 2017 book “iGen,” by Dr. Jean Twenge, a professor of psychology at San Diego State University. The bill includes Twenge’s findings related to increase rates of suicide for teenagers who spend three hours or more per day on electronic devices.   

Under the bill, which was read for the first time on Jan. 24 and won’t reach a committee hearing until April 10, schools would be reimbursed for any costs associated with implementing new restrictions or bans.