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Boost Mobile founder pushes carriers to back ban on cell phones in schools 

A longtime telecom CEO called on carrier giants like Verizon and T-Mobile to get behind the growing push on the state and federal level to chop off kids from cellular phone use in schools. 

Peter Adderton – the Australian-born entrepreneur who founded prepaid service Boost Mobile and now helms MobileX – said every phone carrier has an “ethical and moral responsibility” to support a ban but has refused because “it could hurt their business.” 

“There’s a reason carriers stay silent – it’s the identical reason tobacco corporations stay silent,” Adderton told On The Money. “But the physical health of smoking and seeing smoke in lungs is a greater visual than anything having to do with the impact of cellphones in schools.” 

Earlier this yr, Florida enacted a ban on cellular phone use during class and blocked students from using school wifi to access social media.

School districts in  Alabama, Colorado, Maryland and Ohio have passed similar bans.

The legislators pointed to distractions, cyberbullying and declining mental health amongst young individuals who use phones excessively as key reasons for cutting out the screen time on school grounds. 


Cell phone illustration
Paola Morrongiello

In most cases, schools take away the phones firstly of the day and return them at the top. 

Adderton, a father of three, said he was moved to turn into the primary major telecom CEO to call for motion within the US after seeing the positive effect the restrictions had when Australia implemented a ban over the past few years.

“I’m a parent first and a CEO second and I see the impact that is having and I can’t see why anyone would have a difficulty calling for a federal ban on schools,” he said.

Child psychologist Michael Carr-Gregg, who led an independent review of mobile phones bans at schools, found that the Aussie prohibition resulted in “improved academic outcomes, reduced distractions and promoted plenty of social interaction, particularly in recess and lunchtime, which wasn’t happening beforehand.” 

One Australian principal, Mark Sneddon, said, “The lesson-by-lesson battle with phones at school is gone, so we’re getting five, 10, perhaps quarter-hour of teaching and learning time back.”


Stock photo of child looking at phone.
“I’m a parent first and a CEO second and I see the impact that is having and I can’t see why anyone would have a difficulty calling for a federal ban on schools,” Adderton said. DimaBerlin – stock.adobe.com

The call for a federal cellular phone ban in schools comes as social media corporations are increasingly under scrutiny for his or her role in causing kids to suffer depression and eating disorders on the expense of turning a profit. 

Earlier this week, Facebook and Instagram were accused of promoting minors’ profiles to child predators and inundating underage users with sexually explicit content, in line with a lawsuit filed by the New Mexico attorney general.  

While banning phones in schools won’t eliminate access to problematic social media it could diminish the period of time children spend on these platforms, Adderton insisted.

He also noted that it’s not only social media corporations who bear some culpability for the hazards posed by these platforms but additionally the telecom carriers who he sees as “enablers.” 

“Everyone is hammering the social media giants however the very individuals who connect you to those platforms have an ethical responsibility to society, too,” he said, adding, “93% of individuals now access the web through a mobile device… if you happen to lose connectivity you may’t access any of this.”

Last month, Sens. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) and Tim Kaine (D-Va.) introduced a bill to review the results of cellphone usage in schools — a move some are hopeful could pave the way in which for a completely fledged federal ban. 

“Widespread use of cellphones in schools are at best a distraction for young Americans; at worst, they expose schoolchildren to content that’s harmful and addictive. Our laws will make schools remain centers of learning,” Cotton said in an announcement.

The politicians are unlikely to get much blowback because the demographic this effects — school-aged children – aren’t of voting age. 

“Nothing plays higher in Congress than child safety and youngsters’s education,” Joel Thayer said of the political viability of a possible bill. 

“You have kids literally filming teachers once they’re reprimanding students and putting it on TikTok,” Thayer added. “Teachers who’re uninterested in getting harassed by students and their union are probably on board.”

Others note that cellular phone accessibility for college students is important, especially within the event of an energetic shooter in a college.

“Given our inability to secure our schools, how would that be good for safety and who will explain that to a victim’s parents?” said Walt Piecy, a partner and TMT analyst at LightShed Partners.

Piecy, together with other analysts, also dismissed Adderton’s assertion that carriers don’t need a ban because it could impact their bottom lines.

“They receives a commission for subscriptions, not usage,” said Craig Moffett of Moffett Nathanson research, who doesn’t imagine in a ban.

“Teens will value their phones much more the moment the bell rings.”

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