Kimberly P. Yow

Kimberly P. Yow

Hi there! I'm Kimberly Yow, a passionate journalist with a deep love for alternative rock. Combining my two passions, I've found my dream job. Join me on this exciting journey as I explore the world of journalism and rock music.

There’s a crisis over cellphones in our schools and we can’t afford to ignore it

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Children should go to school to develop skills like math, reading, and writing that will help them succeed, and build healthy relationships with their peers and teachers. 

Unfortunately, statistics indicate that the widespread use of mobile devices in K-12 schools could make it harder for students to focus on those objectives. As parents and public officials, we’re concerned about this issue and want to look into it further. That’s why we introduced legislation to study the impact of curbing cellphone use in the classroom.

Cellphones in schools are at best a distraction for students. At worst, they prevent learning and personal growth. They can also feed students harmful content that hurts their mental health.

CELL PHONE SHOCKER AS 97% OF KIDS USE THEIR DEVICE DURING SCHOOL HOURS AND BEYOND, SAYS STUDY

recent study showed that 97% of children aged 11-17 use their cell phones during the school day, with a median use of 43 minutes per day. The majority of this cellphone use was to access social media, watch YouTube videos, and play games. A 2013 study concluded that college students who were not using their cell phones wrote down 62% more information in their notes and scored a full letter grade and a half higher on a test than peers who actively used their cell phones.

Push notifications on phones can cause a distraction, no matter how engaging a lesson is. And a generation of Americans are now conditioned to continually scroll through social media apps and are more likely to play games on their phones during lunchtime or free periods than talk to their friends.

Congress should pass our bipartisan Focus on Learning Act, which instructs the Department of Education to study the impact of reducing cellphone use in the classroom so that we can give schools the information they need to address this growing crisis. 

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This bill would support schools that want to take the initiative on this important issue. It creates a pilot program that would provide $5 million dollars a year for five years to select schools that want to create a cellphone-free environment for their students. 

This funding would be used for the installation of lockers or other secure containers for students to store their cellphones during the school day. And it empowers parents by soliciting their feedback before participating in the pilot program.

Taking into consideration legitimate concerns raised by parents and teachers, this pilot program would include exceptions for students with significant health conditions and disabilities and those with language difficulties. Participating schools would also be required to have a communication system in place to ensure that safety-related communications are not interrupted.

Technology can improve lives and livelihoods, but it can also isolate and distract. It is the responsibility of schools and parents to harness the benefits of new technologies and prepare young Americans to use them while protecting students from their negative effects. The Focus on Learning Act would help communities achieve this difficult balance.

Democrat Tim Kaine represents Virginia in the United States Senate.

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