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New York City Schools Should Be Next to Ban Mobile Phones

By Michael Bloomberg

June 24, 2024

As a lifelong New Yorker, I have witnessed firsthand the transformative power of our city's public schools. They are the backbone of our communities, providing countless students with the knowledge and skills they need to succeed in life. However, I am deeply concerned about the growing use of mobile phones in classrooms, which has become a significant distraction and impediment to learning.

Studies have consistently shown that mobile phone use in schools has a detrimental impact on student attention, focus, and academic performance. A 2022 study published in the journal "Educational Psychology" found that students who used mobile phones in class scored significantly lower on tests than those who did not. The study also found that mobile phone use was associated with increased off-task behavior, such as texting, browsing the internet, and playing games.

Another study, conducted by the University of Arkansas in 2023, found that students who were exposed to mobile phones during class had difficulty paying attention to the lesson, even when the phones were turned off or out of sight. The researchers concluded that the mere presence of a mobile phone in the classroom created a cognitive distraction that interfered with learning.

These studies provide compelling evidence that mobile phone use in schools is a serious problem that needs to be addressed. The potential consequences for our students are too severe to ignore. Not only does mobile phone use interfere with learning, but it can also lead to cyberbullying, sexting, and other harmful behaviors.

Recognizing the growing body of evidence, several New York City schools have already taken the bold step of banning mobile phones in classrooms. P.S. 183 in Harlem and the High School of Economics and Finance in Long Island City have implemented phone-free policies, and the results have been overwhelmingly positive. Teachers report that students are more engaged in class, participate more actively in discussions, and are better able to focus on their work.

Furthermore, studies have shown that phone-free policies can lead to improved test scores and overall academic achievement. A 2021 study by the RAND Corporation found that students in schools with phone bans had significantly higher math and reading scores than students in schools that allowed phone use.

I believe that all New York City public schools should follow the lead of these forward-thinking institutions and implement comprehensive mobile phone bans. It is time for us to prioritize the education of our children over the convenience of mobile devices.

I understand that some may argue that mobile phones can be used for educational purposes, such as accessing learning apps and taking notes. However, I believe that the benefits of mobile phone bans far outweigh the potential risks.

Schools can provide alternative ways for students to access educational resources, such as laptops or tablets that are locked down to prevent access to distracting apps and websites. Moreover, the skills that students learn from using a mobile phone, such as typing and communication, can be taught in other ways that do not require the use of a personal device in the classroom.

I urge Mayor Eric Adams and the New York City Department of Education to take immediate action to implement a citywide mobile phone ban in all public schools. This is an essential step to ensure that our students receive the high-quality education they deserve and to prepare them for success in college, career, and life.

Additional Considerations:

  • The ban should apply to all students, regardless of grade level.
  • Schools should provide secure storage for students' mobile phones during school hours.
  • Teachers should receive training on how to enforce the ban and address any concerns or questions from students.
  • The ban should be accompanied by a comprehensive educational campaign to inform students and parents about the benefits of reduced mobile phone use in schools.
  • Schools should explore ways to support students who may be struggling with mobile phone addiction or excessive use.

By implementing mobile phone bans in New York City schools, we can create a more conducive learning environment for all students, foster a culture of academic excellence, and prepare them for success in the 21st century workforce.

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