The Los Angeles Unified School District Board of Education has voted to ban smartphones for its 429,000 students to protect them from distractions and negative effects of social media on learning and mental health. This decision, passed with a 5-2 vote, requires a policy within 120 days to stop cellphone and social media use starting January 2025. Board member Nick Melvoin believes this will positively impact students, the city, and the nation.

In response to U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy’s call for social media platforms to adopt warning labels similar to those on cigarette packages due to mental health concerns, Los Angeles school officials are considering storing phones in pouches or lockers during school hours. They are also exploring ways to limit social media access and support students of various ages and abilities, including those with learning or physical disabilities. However, board members George McKenna and Scott Schmerelson have concerns about the policy’s strictness and enforcement challenges. Los Angeles now joins many smaller school districts nationwide in restricting phone and social media access. Last year, Florida enacted legislation mandating school districts prevent student access to social media, following similar actions in other states. Despite research gaps on mental health risks, Murthy emphasized the need for action, citing studies suggesting increased mental illness risks among adolescents spending excessive time on social media. The district also highlighted evidence linking smartphone dependency to rising anxiety and cyberbullying incidents.