(The Center Square) – U.S. Senator Mitt Romney, R-Utah, offered two amendments to help better understand the impact smartphones have in the classroom to the Advancing Research in Education Act during a Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee mark-up, according to a press release from his office.
The Committee approved his amendments unanimously and added them to AREA, which passed out of HELP by a 20-1 vote.
The amendments come as Utah Governor Spencer Cox works to mitigate the negative impacts of social media on children and to stop cellphone use by students in the classroom for non-educational purposes.
The first amendment Romney introduced would direct the Statistics Commissioner of the National Center for Education Statistics to gather data on “school, local educational agency, and state policies pertaining to student smartphone use, including policies that prohibit smartphone use by students,” the release said.
His other amendment would direct the Research Commissioner of the National Center for Education Research to “assess how student use of smartphones during instructional hours has affected academic achievement or youth mental health and also assess school, local educational agency, and state policies pertaining to student smartphone use, including policies that prohibit smartphone use by students,” the release said.
“The negative impacts of social media on the well-being of our children are becoming more and more evident. Nearly 60% of students self-reported that they are using their phones for non-education purposes during class instruction—commonly for texting and checking social media,” Romney said. “Curbing the non-educational use of smartphones in the classroom may not only help raise students’ GPAs and increase their focus but also help improve the mental health of our students. I’m pleased to see my amendments unanimously approved by Committee—it’s imperative that policymakers have access to evidence-based information before implementing changes to help our students improve their health and academics.”
U.S. Sen. Tim Kaine, D-Virginia, cosponsored both amendments.
In 2020, a National Center for Education Statistics study found that 76% of U.S. schools had varying cellphone bans in schools.
The 2023 Global Education Monitoring Report called for schools to only allow cellphone use when it benefits learning.
“Students need to learn the risks and opportunities that come with technology and not be shielded from them entirely,” the report said. “But countries need to give better guidance on what technology is allowed in school and what is not, and on their responsible use. Only technology that has a clear role in supporting learning should be allowed in school.”
States currently working to ban them include: Florida, Ohio, Colorado, Maryland, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and California.