If your son or daughter is like most kinds in New Jersey, they are constantly on their cell phones, texting, playing games and fooling around on social media sites.

State lawmakers could soon require an in-depth study to be conducted to determine what kind of an effect this is having on the physiological, emotional and intellectual growth and development of students.

Legislation S715 sponsored by state Sen. Dick Codey, D-Essex, would establish the Commission on the Effects of Smart Phone and Social Media Usage on Adolescents.

Cell phones make kids nervous?

Codey said this should be studied and regulations may need to be implemented because it’s becoming clear “the more you’re using a phone as teenagers your sleep quality is down, your levels of anxiety are up, depression up, not a good look shall we say.”

Highwaystarz-Photography ThinkStock

Codey noted a study by the American Medical Association found a number of harmful effects on kids using digital devices so the issue needs careful examination.

“Should the cell phone be banned in the classroom? We’ve got to really dig down and find out if that’s the way to go. I would vote yes.”

The legislation would require a 15-member commission to determine:

• The extent of smartphone and social media usage in public schools, including the average amount of time students in various age groups spend each day in school on electronic devices

• The effects that use has on the emotional health of students, including incidents of harassment, intimidation or bullying, or other disruptive or violent behaviors

• The effects that use has on the academic performance of students

• The effects that use has on the physical health of students, including incidents of depression, sleep deprivation, weight loss or gain, or high blood pressure.

Little girl and boy watching video or playing games on their smart phones.
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Trouble with conversations

Codey said that many kids that are on their phones all the time don’t seem to be able to communicate well.

“It’s hard to have the long conversations, and ones that are thought-provoking as well, it’s real quick.”

He said cell phones present a serious distraction danger to teens when they’re driving.

Codey said many students are allowed to use their smartphones in school during tests and other classroom situations.

“Call me old-fashioned but if I was doing something like that during class, my lights would be out when I got home, or worse," he said.

The bill, which has been passed by the Senate and is pending in the Assembly, directs the commission to issue a final report of its findings and recommendations to the Governor and the Legislature no later than one year after its organizational meeting. The commission will expire 30 days after the submission of the final report

David Matthau is a reporter for New Jersey 101.5. You can reach him at david.matthau@townsquaremedia.com

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