ARIZONA NEWS

Arizona Gov. Katie Hobbs vetoes school cellphone ban, says it’s unnecessary

Apr 12, 2024, 1:00 PM

A girl posing with another girl and a boy holds a cellphone to take a selfie in what appears to be ...

Arizona Gov. Katie Hobbs vetoed a proposed school cellphone ban. (Pexels Photo)

(Pexels Photo)

PHOENIX — Arizona Gov. Katie Hobbs vetoed a bill this week that sought to limit cellphone use by students at public schools across the state.

The proposed cellphone ban would have required district and charter schools to adopt policies that limit wireless device use to educational purposes or for emergencies.

House Bill 2793 also would have limited access to social media sites on school-provided internet.

“This legislation establishes an unnecessary mandate for an issue schools are already addressing,” Hobbs, a Democrat, said in her veto letter.

The Legislature passed the school cellphone ban bill, which was introduced by Rep. Beverly Pingerelli, without any votes from Democrats.

Are schools doing anything about cellphone use?

The Scottsdale Unified School District is one example of administrators taking action without a state mandate.

The district implemented a policy for the current school year that requires students through eighth grade to put their cellphones and smart watches away during school hours.

Why was Arizona school cellphone ban proposed?

Pingerelli, chair of the Arizona House Education Committee, called cellphone use by school-age children “an epidemic.”

“There is a growing body of research that clearly links the use of wireless devices like cellphones to increased negative social harms among our youth,” she said in a statement Friday.

“Arizona middle and high schools today are flooded with students glued to screens. It’s an epidemic that is impacting everything from teen depression and anxiety, increased childhood obesity and decreased academic achievement.”

Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Horne, a Republican who supported the Arizona school cellphone ban, pointed to the threat of bullying via electronic devices.

“It is enough that they get bullied on their cellphones when they’re away from school. It should not be happening while they are in school trying to learn, so that the bullying occurs 24 hours a day,” Horne said in a statement Friday. “To permit that bullying to go on 24 hours a day shows a lack of empathy for the students.”

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Arizona Gov. Katie Hobbs vetoes school cellphone ban, says it’s unnecessary