California Governor Gavin Newsom wants to restrict phone use in schools

He said he will work with legislators this summer to pursue a statewide school phone ban.

California Governor on Facebook

Gavin Newsom, the governor of California, has issued a statement in support of efforts aiming to restrict the use of smartphones in schools within the state. As The New York Times reports, the governor aired his stance merely hours before board members at the Los Angeles Unified School District voted to pass a proposal for a school phone ban. Newsom said he will work with lawmakers "to restrict the use of smartphones during the school day" this summer, because children and teens "should be focused on their studies — not their screens."

The governor also mentioned and agreed with the US Surgeon General's op-ed published by The Times, wherein he said that social media platforms should be required to display warning labels from his office because they can significantly harm teenagers' mental health. In his piece, Vivek Murthy explained that the label "which requires congressional action, would regularly remind parents and adolescents that social media has not been proved safe."

Newsom said the rules he develops will build upon the directive he signed in 2019, which authorizes (but doesn't require) districts to adopt phone bans. If California does pass a law to ban the use of phone during school hours, it'll join Florida and Indiana in the list of states with similar legislation. Florida's schools are required to prevent their students from using their phones during class time, and some districts even require them to ban phone use until it's time for the students to go home. Other states are poised to follow suit. New York City designated social media as a public health hazard earlier this year, and Governor Kathy Hochul previously said that she would pursue phone restrictions for schools in the New York state next year.

While LA's board members ultimately passed the proposal for a phone ban, two members voted against it. One told The Times that he voted no because teachers are already having difficulties imposing existing restrictions in schools. Perhaps more importantly, he said that parents need to be able to contact their children during emergencies, like school shootings, echoing the concerns of parents who opposed phone bans in the past.