PENSACOLA, Fla. (WKRG) — Florida Governor Ron Desantis signed several education bills this week including HB 379 which aims to cut down on the use of cell phones and social media in the classroom.
“Social media, you know, it can wait,” Desantis said before he signed the bill. “Honestly it’s not that important to be doing. It’s much more important what’s going on in the classroom.”
It’s an effort to prevent distractions in schools and protect users’ private information. The new law will ban TikTok and other Chinese apps on school and government servers.
Students can turn off WiFi and still access the app but provisions in the law allow teachers to ban cell phones in the classroom.
“I think that they have every right to say kids come in and just check your phone at the beginning at the front of the room,” Desantis said. “Leave it there, learn, then grab your phone and go after that. We don’t want the kids on the phone the whole time while the teachers are trying to teach.”
Escambia County already bans social media on its networks but the school board is considering a ban even if the phone is not connected to the school’s WiFi. Superintendent Tim Smith addressed cell phones in schools at a town hall Tuesday night.
“The expectations in our classrooms, as is written in our Rights and Responsibilities, is that cell phones are to be put away during classroom [instruction] and not used unless a teacher gives permission, if they’re taking a survey or something of that nature which is fairly rare,” Smith said.
Florida students in 6th through 12th grades will also be required to receive instruction on the social, emotional and physical effects of social media. The new law takes effect July 1st.