Bill would require schools to develop policy about smartphone use

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SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4 News) – A bill to possibly limit smartphone use in Utah classrooms was introduced Wednesday to the House Education Committee, with the lawmaker proposing it citing more pornography use among students. 

House Bill 237 is stuck in committee, but could be brought up again this session. The bill doesn’t make specific mention of pornography use among students, but Rep. Susan Pulsipher (R-South Jordan) said she has received reports from parents and educators that students are skirting past school WiFi connections and using phone data to access “inappropriate material.”

The bill would also address problems like cheating and distractions in the classroom, Pulsipher told ABC4 Thursday. 

“It’s a challenge. It’s a challenge for parents and it’s a challenge for schools and what we are trying to do with this bill is help parents and schools create a safer environment for students,” said Pulsipher. 

Parent Linda Zenger testified before a House Committee Wednesday in favor of the bill. 

“My teens have come home and told me that the students are putting airpods in their ears and getting out their smartphones and watching YouTube during class, not listening to the teacher,” said Zenger, who is also the digital technology expert on the State Parent Teacher Association, though the PTA has not taken a position on the bill yet. 

H.B. 237 would allow individual school districts to enact their own strict policies on smartphone use, but the aim is to standardize policies so that educators within districts are on the same page. 

The Utah Board of Education is set to take up the issue in their meeting Friday. 

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