House upvotes bill restricting social media, student phone use in schools
Gus Bilirakis seeks to bring more decency online.

Kyiv, Ukraine - September 5, 2019: A paper cubes collection with
It would also allow teachers to confiscate students’ cell phones during class time.

Legislation banning TikTok, Instagram and other social media sites on public school devices and networks sailed through the House, with every member present voting for the change.

Representatives voted 110-0 for the bill (HB 379), which would require public school districts by July 1 to block access to social media on school-provided Wi-Fi and prevent apps for the platforms from being installed on school devices.

Students would still be able to access the sites on their own mobile plans; however, the measure also would allow districts to adopt rules enabling teachers to confiscate and withhold the devices during class time.

As he did while advocating for the bill in committee, New Port Richey Republican Rep. Brad Yeager, the bill’s sponsor, cited several both worrisome and encouraging data to support his legislation.

He referenced research from Common Sense Media that found 69% of children own cell phones by age 12 and 95% of teenagers have access to social media. It’s been proven, he said, that social media and too much screen time has an “overwhelmingly negative” impact on youths.

“This bill is the first step to disconnect kids from these devices at school and to also create a focused learning environment for our children in the classroom,” he said.

“Research also shows an increase in performance in the classroom when these devices are removed from the students. And the strong indication in this — and what is awesome — is that the performance of low achievers increases twice as much as high achievers when you remove a mobile device from a student’s hand (while they’re in class), so we’re going to bring low achievers … up twice as much.”

There is also data that support claims to the contrary. One report published last year by the Harvard Graduate School of Education found that while phones in the classroom hurt student test scores and information retention, prohibiting the devices negatively impacts student behavior and the perception of school safety.

Orlando Democratic Rep. Anna Eskamani said she supported Yeager’s bill but had concerns about the politicization of websites “many parents would say is fine” that focus on “bullying LGBTQ+ kids.”

Restricting access to those sites, which in some cases offer support to emotionally vulnerable students, could cause more harm than good, she said.

“Obviously this (will be addressed) in the rule-making process, which I will watch closely, but I do want to say for the record that I really hope that parts of this bill are not used in a way to censor access to resources that actually could be really helpful to kids,” she said, “especially if they’re contemplating things like suicide or experiencing bullying.”

HB 379 and its Senate analogue (SB 52) by Zephyrhills Republican Sen. Danny Burgess — which awaits a final floor vote after clearing its last committee this month — would also create new curricula centered on social media safety.

If passed as-is, the legislation would require the Florida Department of Education to procure and provide to districts a lesson plan for students in grades 6-12 on the social, emotional and physical effects of social media, as well as the dangers it poses. Such dangers would include cyberbullying, human trafficking, predation, misinformation, manipulation, the permanency of materials shared online and the risk of exposing sensitive personal information, among other things.

School districts would have to publish details of those lessons online and inform parents of their availability.

Jesse Scheckner

Jesse Scheckner has covered South Florida with a focus on Miami-Dade County since 2012. His work has been recognized by the Hearst Foundation, Society of Professional Journalists, Florida Society of News Editors, Florida MMA Awards and Miami New Times. Email him at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @JesseScheckner.


4 comments

  • Dr. Franklin Waters

    March 31, 2023 at 3:19 pm

    If kids can’t use their phones in school, how will they call their parents to tell them they love them when the next NRA sponsored mass murderer shoots up a classroom with a legally purchased AR-15?

  • Anna

    March 31, 2023 at 4:49 pm

    Mike, great work. I applaud your efforts enormously because I currently make more than $36,000 per month from just one straightforward online business! You can begin creating a steady online income with as little as $29,000, and these are only the most basic internet operations jobs.
    .
    .
    Alternate the connection——————————>>> iplogger.ru/2i9NA4

  • Bert Stimson

    March 31, 2023 at 10:14 pm

    Also Ronnie Dio invokes the right of Prima Nocta with every high school homecoming queen.

  • Mr. Haney

    April 1, 2023 at 4:37 pm

    This legislation must fall into the more freedom category for Republicans.

Comments are closed.


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