Montgomery, Alabama On Thursday, the Alabama State Board of Education adopted a resolution with a unanimous vote that aims to limit students’ use of cell phones in public schools.
Vice President of the Education Board Tracie West commented, “We could not have predicted the great amount of national discussion that is happening across our country right now regarding our young people’s use of cell phones.”
“I believe we cannot control what occurs before they arrive in our buildings each morning, but when they are with us, we must do everything in our power to protect our students and our educators in the classroom,” the resolution reads.
Board members started working on the resolution in late 2023. It would not require public schools in Alabama to completely forbid mobile phone use; instead, it would urge school boards to think about enacting their own cell phone use prohibitions during school hours.
More precisely, according to state superintendent Eric Mackey, the resolution would push school boards to revise their cell phone usage policy for students. A lot of these policies haven’t been changed since state legislators approved a bill restricting the use of pagers in classrooms in 1989.
“This is a national conversation as well as a local issue,” Mackey stated. “It’s about phones, but screen time and social media are the real issues here.”
Students’ use of cell phones has increased significantly in the previous few years due to the rise of social media over the past ten years, particularly with regard to the social media app TikTok. According to a 2023 survey, 97% of kids aged 11 to 17 admitted to using mobile phones in class, with a typical usage duration of 43 minutes.
According to the same study, survey respondents used their phones for a median of more than four hours during the course of the day, including time spent outside of school, picked them up 51 times, and spent an hour and fifty-two minutes on TikTok.
Certain Alabama school systems have already implemented cell phone bans during school hours, as the use of cell phones is regulated by individual school districts and schools. Cell phone use is prohibited in Montgomery Public Schools during school hours, which, according to Mackey, has resulted in a about third decrease in punishment rates.
Now that the resolution has been approved, it will be up to the local school systems to implement or reject the suggestion that cell phone use during school hours be prohibited.