Ban on use of gadgets in schools for below 15-yr-old students sought

December 01, 2019

A congresswoman  has filed a bill prohibiting the use of smartphones and other electronic devices in  public and private schools by students 15 years old and below  to address the worsening mental health crisis among the youth.  

House Bill  No. 5542  author  San Jose Del Monte City Rep. Florida “Rida” Robes said   there are  adverse effects of unregulated smartphone and electronic gadget use especially on  schoolchildren.

Under her bill, students 15 year-old and below are banned from using their  gadgets on school premises except in  the following instances:  emergency or in response to a perceived threat or danger; when the use of such mobile device or electronic gadget is required in a particular lesson, subject to limitations; and when the possession of a mobile device or electronic gadget is necessary for the health or well-being of a student as certified by a licensed physician.

All mobile devices or gadgets brought in schools  must be surrendered to school authorities until dismissal except under exceptional circumstances.  

The governing body of a school are enjoined to implement the provisions of the measure  to make sure that students do not use any mobile devices or electronic gadgets while in  school  or  under the supervision and control of  school authorities.

For older students, the school may also adopt a policy to also limit the use of mobile devices or gadgets while they in  school premises. Those who will violate the rule will be dealt with in accordance with the Student Code of Conduct.

School administrators, teachers and instructors shall also be held administratively liable if they fail to implement the proposed law in accordance with the rules and regulations of the Department of Education.

Robes said many studies showed that children who are allowed to use their phones and gadgets even during school hours exhibit psychological, physiological and mental health issues “interfering with education, diminishing  academic performance, promoting cyberbullying and contributing to an increase in teenage anxiety, depression and suicide.”

She said in  countries that strictly prohibit cellphone use in schools, students have significantly improved their academic performance.  

“In May 2015, the London School of Economics and Political Science published a study which showed that test scores improved significantly at schools that banned mobile phone use. The said study concluded that ‘schools could significantly reduce the education achievement gap by prohibiting mobile phone use in schools’,” Robes pointed out.

She  mentioned that in September 2018, France adopted a nationwide smartphone ban in all primary and middle schools  to promote pupil achievement and healthy social development.

Robes noted that  medical experts have called on parents to push back the age at which their children get their first smartphones to 16 years because it is the age when they are deemed to have enough maturity for a supervised cellular phone use.

“As a nation and responsible parents, we owe it to our future generation to shield them from unnecessary dangers and factors that hinder their full growth. And today’s biggest danger is the growing addiction to smartphones and other electronic gadgets,” she said.