Cell phone ban pushed for K-12 students, teachers in all schools

Cell phone ban pushed for K-12 students, teachers in all schools

By: - Reporter / @santostinaINQ
/ 04:55 AM June 11, 2024

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MANILA, Philippines — Sen. Sherwin Gatchalian has filed a bill that bans K-12 students and teachers in both public and private schools from using mobile devices and electronic gadgets during class hours.

Gatchalian, chair of the Senate committee on basic education, filed Senate Bill No. 2706, or the Electronic Gadget-Free Schools Act, which tasks the Department of Education (DepEd) to draft the guidelines for the measure.


The senator earlier said he believes mobile phones reduce the reading, study and social time of students, noting that they waste a lot of time on social media.


READ: Smartphones: Not so smart

He added that his bill was in line with his bid to encourage more Filipinos to read books.

In SB 2706’s explanatory note, Gatchalian acknowledged that mobile devices and electronic gadgets could be compelling learning tools used to enhance teaching and learning in education.

“Its usage ensures flexible course delivery and makes it possible for learners to access online learning platforms and course resources and interact digitally,” he said.

However, he also pointed out how these technological advancements could become distractions that might adversely impact learning, especially among basic education students.

Gatchalian cited the results of the 2022 Programme for International Student Assessment (Pisa), which showed that 8 in 10 learners age 15 reported being distracted by smartphone use during class. The same number of students also reported being distracted by their classmates’ smartphone use during class hours. The Pisa results further revealed that distraction due to smartphone use during class was correlated with a decrease in performance of about 9.3 points in mathematics, 12.2 points in science and 15.04 points in reading.


“Aside from [a] decrease in learners’ academic performance, access to such devices seems likely to mediate involvement in cyberbullying. Hence, the use of mobile devices and other electronic gadgets must be restricted, especially during class hours, in order to balance the use of technology and promote learning among learners,” the senator said.

He likewise noted that in the 2023 Global Education Monitoring Report, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization recommended stricter regulations on mobile phone use in class.


Gatchalian, however, provided some exceptions in his bill. These were learning-related exceptions, such as classroom presentations or class-based learning activities; health and well-being-related exceptions, such as learners with health conditions that require the use of mobile devices and electronic gadgets; and exceptions related to managing risks, such as emergencies, responses to perceived threats or dangers, and field trips or activities outside school premises.

All covered public and private education institutions that violate the bill will be punished, with the penalties to be determined by the DepEd. Students, on the other hand, will be sanctioned according to their schools’ policies.

A similar bill—Senate Bill No. 1271—was filed in January 2020 by then Sen. Leila de Lima, who sought to regulate gadget use among students in all public K-12 institutions to improve their academic performance.

While acknowledging the educational benefits of using mobile phones and other electronic devices, De Lima cited the risks posed by their unrestrained use, such as lack of sleep and poor concentration and retention. The bill, however, was left pending at the committee level.

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In November 2019, then San Jose del Monte City Rep. Rida Robes also filed House Bill No. 5542, which pushed for a ban on the use of mobile phones and other electronic devices among students aged 15 years and below in all public and private schools. The bill was referred to the House committee on the welfare of children, but no further action was taken. —with a report from Inquirer Research

TAGS: Cell phones, classes, Sherwin Gatchalian

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