Hochul Proposes Ban on Cell Phones in New York Schools

New York Gov. Kathy Hochul (D) is proposing a ban on cellphones in New York schools as part of a broader effort to address youth mental health issues and curb teens’ use of social media.

Hochul announced her intentions on MSNBC’s Morning Joe, emphasizing that excessive phone use during school hours detracts from students’ education. “Why are our young people on their devices all day long during school hours?” Hochul asked. “You don’t have to be in the world of social media throughout the day.”

The details of the proposal, which she plans to introduce in the next legislative session starting in January, remain vague. However, Hochul noted the importance of protecting kids’ mental health and suggested low-tech alternatives like flip phones without internet access to ensure parents can still communicate with their children in emergencies.

Social media companies are increasingly blamed for the rising rates of depression, suicidality, and other mental health issues among youth. In response, states and local governments are considering legislation to crack down on social media use. Hochul is urging lawmakers to pass a package of bills aimed at tackling the state’s youth mental health crisis before the summer recess. This includes plans to require social media platforms to create chronological feeds for users under 18 and to block access and notifications during late-night hours.

In January, New York City Mayor Eric Adams declared social media a “public health threat” and filed a lawsuit against major social media networks, accusing them of fueling a youth mental health crisis.

Lawmakers in Congress are also pushing for the Kids Online Safety Act, a bill aimed at protecting children from dangerous online content. Despite bipartisan support, the measure has struggled to gain traction.

She says it’s to protect kids, but maybe it’s because she doesn’t want any more viral videos of teachers dancing on desks or discussing conspiracy theories in class.