Advocates urge for ban on cell phones for K-12 students and teachers in every school

Senator Files Bill to Ban Mobile Devices in Schools
MANILA, Philippines — A bill has been filed by Sen. Sherwin Gatchalian that would prohibit K-12 students and teachers in both public and private schools from using mobile devices and electronic gadgets during class hours.

Gatchalian, who chairs the Senate committee on basic education, introduced Senate Bill No. 2706, known as the Electronic Gadget-Free Schools Act. The bill would require the Department of Education (DepEd) to create guidelines for implementing the measure.

The senator has expressed concerns that mobile phones distract students from reading, studying, and engaging in social activities, as many spend excessive time on social media platforms. He emphasized that the bill aims to promote a culture of reading among Filipinos.

While acknowledging the potential benefits of mobile devices and electronic gadgets in education, Gatchalian highlighted how these devices can also serve as distractions that hinder learning, particularly among basic education students. He cited the results of the 2022 Programme for International Student Assessment (Pisa), which showed a negative correlation between smartphone use during class and academic performance.

The bill includes exemptions for certain situations, such as learning-related activities, health considerations, and emergencies. Schools that violate the ban would face penalties determined by DepEd, while students would be subject to sanctions based on their school’s policies.

This isn’t the first time such a bill has been proposed. In 2020, then Sen. Leila de Lima introduced a similar measure to regulate gadget use in public K-12 schools. Although recognizing the educational benefits of technology, De Lima underscored the risks associated with excessive device use.

Another bill, House Bill No. 5542, was filed in 2019 by former San Jose del Monte City Rep. Rida Robes, which advocated for restricting mobile phone and electronic device use among students aged 15 and under. While the bill was referred to a committee, no further action was taken. —with a report from Inquirer Research.

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