Gov. Cox outlines proposal recommending cell phone bans in Utah classrooms

SALT LAKE CITY – During an address to parents and teachers at Bonneville Jr. High School in Holladay, Utah, Governor Spencer Cox urged lawmakers, teachers, and parents to embrace legislation that would shield Utah kids from the harmful impacts of social media.

“Like seat belt laws and tobacco regulations enacted years ago to protect our physical health, today I’m calling on Utahns to join me in supporting some common sense solutions to protect our mental health,” Gov. Cox said. “We need parents, educators, community leaders, and lawmakers to work with us to address these critical issues.”

Teens are being badly impacted by social media, which keeps them awake at night, keeps them distracted, and exposes them to peer pressure, bullying, rumors, and false views of other people’s lives.

More frequent social media usage, nocturnal social media use, and emotional involvement in social media, such as being upset when you can’t log on, were all associated with poorer sleep quality and higher levels of anxiety and despair, according to a 2016 study of more than 450 teenagers.

During his speech on Monday, Governor Cox had a few recommendations for enhancing young people’s mental health, suggesting schools start banning cell phones in classrooms, and making social media firms more responsible by demanding parental oversight and consent before opening an account. He also urged parents to set sensible limitations and serve as excellent role models for their children online.

Gov. Cox said he will be working with legislators, state and local school officials, the Utah PTA and other groups in developing policy recommendations. He also will convene a symposium of stakeholders in the coming months.

The governor’s announcement coincides with meetings being held by the National Governors Association in Salt Lake City Tuesday and Wednesday. The meetings will focus on youth mental health.

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