Governor Signs Muratsuchi Bill Encouraging Schools to Restrict Smartphone Use

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SACRAMENTO — Gov. Gavin Newsom on July 2 signed into law Assembly Bill (AB) 272, authored by Assemblymember Al Muratsuchi (D-Torrance), a bill that encourages California school districts to develop and adopt policies that limit or prohibit student use of smartphones on school grounds during school hours, with specific exceptions.

This new law authorizes school districts to adopt their own policies to limit or prohibit smartphones except in the case of an emergency; when a teacher or administrator grants permission for academic or other approved purposes; when necessary for the health and well-being of the student; or when needed by a student with special needs.

“Growing evidence shows excessive smartphone use at school interferes with a student’s education and success, encourages cyberbullying, and contributes to teenage anxiety, depression, and suicide,” stated Muratsuchi.  “This new law will encourage school districts to develop their own policy that strikes a balance between allowing appropriate student use of smartphones at school, while making sure that smartphones are not interfering with a student’s educational, social and emotional development.”

Evidence has shown that unrestricted use of smartphones by students at schools lowers academic performance, particularly among low-achieving students; promotes cyberbullying; and contributes to teenage mental health issues. Between 2009 and 2017, the number of 14- to 17-year-olds experiencing clinical-level depression jumped more than 60 percent, with a 47 percent increase among 12- to 13-year-olds. AB 272 will take effect in January 2020.

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