SACRAMENTO – On Wednesday evening the Assembly Education Committee unanimously passed landmark legislation authored by Assemblymembers Josh Hoover (R-Folsom) and Al Muratsuchi (D-Torrance) to limit the use of smartphones in schools. AB 3216 would require school districts in California to adopt a policy no later than July 1, 2026 that limits or prohibits the use of smartphones by students during the school day. It was approved on a unanimous 7-0 vote.

“This is an incredible first step toward protecting and improving the mental health and academic outcomes of students across California,” said Assemblyman Josh Hoover. “Research continues to demonstrate the potential harms of smartphone use among children. The growing use of these devices in a child’s everyday life can contribute to lower test scores, anxiety, depression, and even suicide. Our state must take action to limit the use of smartphones during the school day and protect kids from these potential harms.”


Under current law, school districts are authorized to limit or prohibit smartphone use by students during the school day and many have done so with resounding success. Administrators have reported increased social interaction among peers, decreased instances of bullying on campus, and improvements in academic outcomes. A 2016 study found that when smartphones were removed from classrooms standardized test scores increased by an average of six percent, with even greater improvements among low achieving students. AB 3216 would continue to build on this success by expanding limitations on smartphones statewide.

“I am pleased to join Assemblymember Hoover in this bipartisan effort to require California school districts to place limits on student smartphone use on campus during school hours, unless approved by teachers or administrators for academic, emergency, or other purposes,” said Assemblyman Al Muratsuchi, joint author of the bill and Chair of the Assembly Education Committee. “In 2019, I authored Assembly Bill 272, which was signed into law to encourage school districts to consider such limits. Since then, growing research shows excessive smartphone use not only interfering with learning but also contributing to teenage anxiety, depression, and cyberbullying. This bill will require all districts to develop their own appropriate policy to balance appropriate student use of smartphones at school with curbing the impact of excessive smartphone use on a student’s educational, social, and emotional well-being.”

recent piece published in The Atlantic by NYU social psychologist Jonathan Haidt described a number of the potential harms that smartphone use is contributing to in children:

  • Grades suffer when learning is disrupted as a result of smartphone distractions in the classroom
  • Up to 15% of teenagers engage in “problematic social media use,” which includes symptoms such as preoccupation, withdrawal symptoms, neglect of other areas of life, and lying to parents and friends about time spent on social media
  • The latest Gallup data found that American teenagers spend around 5 hours per day on social media platforms alone
  • As smartphones have become ubiquitous since 2010 we have seen a 70% increase in the number of high school seniors expressing that “life often feels meaningless (now more than 1 in 5 seniors express this)
  • Rates of anxiety, depression, and suicide are on the rise among young people
  • Poor mental health outcomes and smartphone use are most strongly correlated in kids under the age of 14

AB 3216 is critical legislation that prioritizes the needs of California students by limiting these potential harms during the school day, increasing social interaction among peers, reducing bullying, and improving academic outcomes

Content courtesy of a Press Release furnished by the office of Assemblyman Josh Hoover. Josh Hoover represents Assembly District 7, which includes the cities of Citrus Heights, Folsom, and Rancho Cordova and the unincorporated communities of Carmichael, Fair Oaks, Foothill Farms, Gold River, Mather, McClellan Park, North Highlands, Orangevale, and Rosemont.

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