Banner image of a group of students in a hallway at school. Text over the image saying Be present. Be engaged. Be phone free.Studies show the rise of the use of cell phones contributes to several related harms in the daily lives of smart phone users, including social deprivation, sleep deprivation, and attention fragmentation. For students, these harms may contribute to an increase in youth mental health concerns  and have negative impacts on academic performance. Youth mental health symptoms and disorders continue to rise at concerning levels in the United States, with at least 1 in 5 children reporting mental, emotional, developmental, or behavioral disorders. 

Ohio’s Cell Phones in Schools Toolkit

In the United States, 95% of teens (children ages 13 to 17) have access to smart cell phones. Students, on average, receive 192 alerts per day from their cell phones, about 11 notifications per waking hour, one every five minutes. Cell phones and their applications are designed to catch the attention of students, which is disruptive to both learning and relationships. Even when students don’t check their cell phones, the presence of a phone impacts their ability to think.  

Because of this, many Ohio schools have policies that eliminate student phone use during school hours. Schools that have successfully implemented policies prohibiting the use of cell phones report that students are talking, interacting, laughing, and enjoying themselves. Research demonstrates these policies reduce bullying frequency, especially among students ages 13-16. They similarly have positive and significant impacts on standardized test scores and grade point averages of girls

Without access to cell phones, students can focus on the present, the people around them, and their education. Without the disruption of cell phones, school staff can spend more time teaching and supporting students.  

Cell Phones in Ohio Schools 

Ohio law now requires all schools to adopt a policy governing the use of cell phones by students during school hours by July 1, 2025. The Department of Education and Workforce, under the leadership of Ohio Governor Mike DeWine and Lt. Governor Jon Husted, encourages all districts and schools to adopt a local policy to eliminate phone use during the school day.  

Ohio law requires schools and districts to adopt local policies that: 

  • Emphasize that student cell phone use be as limited as possible during school hours.
  • Reduce cell phone-related distractions in classroom settings.
  • May permit students to use cell phones or other technological devices for student learning or to monitor or address a health concern. 

Schools and districts can use the Department’s Model Cell Phones in Schools Policy to assist with crafting local policies.