A call to restrict cell phone use in schools is gaining support amid youth mental health crisis

SEATTLE — Calls to limit cell phone use in school and put warning labels on social media platforms is a cause that is gaining momentum.

“It’s unusual to apply a surgeon general’s warning label, but we find ourselves in a unique and unusual situation,” Dr. Vivek Murthy, the U.S. Surgeon General, said. “This youth mental health crisis that we’re living through, with extraordinary high rates of depression and anxiety, this is become the defining public health challenge of our time.”

Washington State Representative Stephanie McClintock spearheaded a bill during the last session that would direct school districts to put cell phone restrictions in place by the start of the 2027-2028 school year.

“In other areas of the country and world they are setting cell phone use and putting parameters on that in school and grades are going up, kids are paying attention, their mental health is improving, and the bullying is mostly related to that,” she said.

The bill passed with bipartisan support out of the House Education Committee but then stalled in Appropriations. McClintock says she’s ready to try again and believes this time, the bill will make it to the governor’s desk.

“With a companion bill in the senate I am really confident we can get this through I think there’s just an appetite for it,” she said.

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