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Lawmakers working to limit cell phone usage in schools

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Posted at 9:35 PM, Feb 14, 2024
and last updated 2024-02-14 21:35:33-05

INDIANAPOLIS — Cell phones have become a part of not only our daily lives, but our kids’ too.

Electronics can be distracting, especially when kids are in the classroom.

Now, lawmakers are working to pass a bill that would require schools across Indiana to follow certain guidelines when it comes to how students use their cell phones in class.

“I really don’t like heavy-handed government,” Sen. Jeff Raatz (R-Richmond) said. “In this case, I felt it was necessary to put some guidelines.”

While most schools have policies for cell phones and other electronic devices, there isn’t a statewide standard, and education leaders say devices create difficulties.

“There has been a significant uptick in behavioral issues, classroom disruptions, distractions and other negative disciplinary issues,” John O’Neal, with the Indiana State Teachers Association, said. “When you look at it, a lot of this leads back to cell phone and device usage during class.”

Senate Bill 185 would require that all public and charter schools create a policy for phones and other wireless devices.

Students could still use their phones or tables for educational purposes, if teachers find it necessary. They can also use them if there is an emergency or for health reasons.

Those parameters are something those who facilitate dual credit courses say are important, especially for cyber security reasons.

“As the state’s top provider of dual credit in high school, it’s very concerning to us,” Mary Jane Michalak, with Ivy Tech Community College, said. “We want to make sure students have the ability to use their cell phones for educational purposes because we are in the process of moving to requite multi-factor authentication.”

According to the National Center for Education Statistics, in 2020, cell phone bans were in place in 76% of U.S. schools.

Lawmakers are hopeful that this legislation will help kids get a better education.

The bill had no opposition. It now heads to the House floor. If it passes, it will head to the Governor’s Desk.