The Los Angeles Unified School District Board of Education voted on Tuesday to ban smartphones for its 429,000 students, aiming to shield them from distractions and the negative effects of social media on learning and mental health. The board, representing the second-largest U.S. school district, approved the resolution 5-2, requiring a policy within 120 days to prohibit cellphone and social media use starting January 2025. Board member Nick Melvoin believes this decision will positively impact students, the city, and the nation.

Following U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy’s urging for social media platforms to adopt warning labels akin to those on cigarette packages due to what he identifies as a mental health crisis, Los Angeles school officials are considering whether to store phones in pouches or lockers during school hours. They are also exploring ways to restrict access to social media and accommodate students of varying ages and abilities, including those with learning or physical disabilities. However, board members George McKenna and Scott Schmerelson have expressed concerns about the policy’s perceived strictness and the difficulties of enforcing it. Los Angeles now joins several smaller school districts nationwide in restricting phone and social media access. Last year, Florida enacted legislation mandating that school districts prevent student access to social media, following similar efforts in other states. Despite ongoing research gaps concerning mental health risks, Murthy underscored the urgent need for action, citing studies indicating heightened risks of mental illness among adolescents spending excessive time on social media. The school district additionally highlighted evidence linking cellphone dependency to rising anxiety rates and cyberbullying incidents.