JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — A bill baring students from using their cell phones during classroom instruction and mandating social media safety lessons cleared its final committee stop in the Florida Senate Tuesday morning.
The legislation mandating social media safety training was one of the first bills filed ahead of this legislative session.
We spoke with bill sponsor Senator Danny Burgess (R-Zephyrhills) back in December, who told us his aim was to ensure Florida students understood the risks posed by social media use.
“What kind of cyberbullying is going on, what kind of predatory behavior is happening online. The list of concerns is endless,” Burgess said on Dec. 22 of last year.
As the bill moved through the legislature, it picked up a provision that would bar students from using their cell phones during classroom instruction.
“They can’t learn anything. It’s frying their brain,” Duval parent Darkita Lewis said.
Lewis said she’s all for the idea.
“My kids always get distracted on their cell phones. It’s just like the cell phones are another world,” Lewis said.
Julie Freece, a grandmother to four school-aged children, agreed with the idea in principle, but only as long as students are able to access their phones in the case of an emergency.
“With the amount of mass shootings that are going on at schools, I guarantee you I will happily come to school and have a conversation with anybody who thinks that one of my grandchildren does not need to have a phone at school,” Freece said.
While the bill does put a blanket prohibition on students using their phones during classroom instruction, teachers are given the option whether to take the phones away from students or allow them to have them in their possession during class time.
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Additionally, the bill prohibits the use of social media on school networks.