Governor Hochul plans to implement a misguided ban that would affect every student and parent in New York.

In an effort to address a major issue affecting children, the New York governor is going medieval on schoolchildren and sending them back to the dark ages of the 1980s. During an exclusive interview with The Guardian, Hochul announced that she would be introducing a bill to ban smartphones from all schools in the state.

Not only is this completely ineffective, it will wind up unfairly punishing low-income families, leaving their children less safe than wealthier students.

Why a Smartphone Ban in New York?

According to Hochul, smartphones are responsible for cutting off children from "human connection, social interaction and normal classroom activity." In this, she's absolutely correct. Irresponsible phone use by children can be terribly damaging to their mental health. However, banning students from bringing them to school does not address this problem.

The strange piece of legislation being proposed by Hochul would also demand that smartphone companies implement safeguards that are already available on almost every phone.

Hochul says the new law gives parents the ability to turn off notifications at night, something that all Samsung and Apple phones do quite easily, but most parents tend to ignore.


How a Smartphone Ban Will Affect New York Parents

Most parents, including myself, arm their children with smartphones because of safety concerns. To address this, Hochul says the new law will allow students to bring "flip phones" to school saying, "Parents are very anxious about mass shootings in school (and) want the ability to have some form of connection in an emergency situation."

That's right. Parents who are already financially strapped will now have to purchase two phones for their kids if they want to have the ability to communicate with them. Those who can't afford to do that will be cut off from their children not only at school, but also during their travel to and from home.

Why This Plan Will Only Make Things Worse

It's clear that Hochul doesn't know anything about how parents and children use smartphones. Handing your child a second "burner phone" to take to school is way more dangerous than letting them bring along their smartphone.

While I can log into my son's iPhone account and see every app he's used and web page he's visited, I would remain completely in the dark about who he was talking to or texting on this flip phone Hochul wants him to have free use of all day long.

Also, the main reason parents give their children smartphones isn't texting, it's GPS. Setting up alerts when your child isn't where they are supposed to be and the ability to follow their walk home from school has given parents comfort in an unsettling world. Banning smartphones will take away this important safety tool.


There Are Better Solutions Than a Smartphone Ban

Every generation has freaked out over technology and instituted bans that, looking back on them now, seem ridiculous. In the 1960s comic books were seen as a dangerous distraction and the cause of moral decline. Schools would confiscate them and forbid children from bringing them to class. In the 80s the Walkman was blamed for teen isolation and suicide. Being seen wearing those flimsy headphones between classes would earn you a one-way ticket to the principal's office. Everything from calculator watches to yo-yos has been viewed as a danger to children and triggered a ridiculous overreaction from lawmakers.

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Most schools already have policies in place about using smartphones in class or the hall, yet teachers and administrators have turned a blind eye. Hochul could force schools to enforce these policies and allow students to keep those phones in Do Not Disturb mode while class is in session. An even more effective solution would be to have schools add a course on responsible social media use to their curriculum. Instead of making something forbidden fruit, teaching children about the dangers of their phones will encourage them to make better choices.

Don't Take The Responsibility Away From Parents

The bottom line is that no ban or legislation will protect children from the dangers of smartphones if their parents aren't on board. Not allowing smartphones at school will not stop children from using them once they get home if their parents aren't willing to enforce their use or take advantage of the dozens of safety features every phone already has.

A school ban will only punish parents who are already responsibly teaching their children how to navigate the world of technology and social media while creating no real solutions for parents who are already failing to monitor their children's phone use.

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