Torrance, CA – Assemblymember Al Muratsuchi (D-Torrance) introduced Assembly Bill 272, which would require school districts to develop a policy that either prohibits or restricts the use of smartphones on school grounds during school hours. Schools districts would be given authority to develop the details of the smartphone usage policy, allowing exceptions for emergencies and educational purposes.
“Growing evidence shows excessive smartphone use at school interferes with education, encourages cyberbullying, and may have adverse effects on teenage mental health, including increased rates of depression and suicide,” stated Assemblymember Muratsuchi. “This bill will require school districts to adopt their own policies that strike a balance between allowing appropriate student use of smartphones while making sure that smartphones are not interfering with a student’s educational, social and emotional development.”
According to the 2017 “Common Sense Census, Media use by kids ages 0-3,” 95 percent of families with kids aged 0-8 now have smartphones. This is up from 63 percent in 2013. Growing evidence has shown that unrestricted use of smartphones by students at schools lowers pupil performance, particularly among low-achieving students, promotes cyberbullying, and contributes to teenage anxiety, depression, and suicide. Between 2009 and 2017, the number of 14 to 17 year olds experiencing clinical level depression in the last year jumped more than 60%, with a 47% increase among 12 to 13 year-olds. Teens who spend 5 or more hours a day on social media are twice as likely to be depressed as those not using social media.
AB 272 will be heard in the Assembly Education Committee in April.
Assemblymember Al Muratsuchi, the Assistant Majority Leader for Policy and Research, represents California’s 66th Assembly District, which includes El Camino Village, Gardena, Harbor City, Harbor Gateway, Hermosa Beach, Lomita, Los Angeles, Manhattan Beach, Palos Verdes Estates, Rancho Palos Verdes, Redondo Beach, Rolling Hills, Rolling Hills Estates, Torrance, and West Carson. Muratsuchi is the Chair of the Assembly Select Committee on Aerospace, and is a member of the Assembly Committees on Budget, Budget Subcommittee on Education Finance, Environmental Safety and Toxic Materials, Natural Resources, Utilities and Energy, and Veterans Affairs.
The Bill was first introduced on January 24 and amended on March 19.