A Florida Bill May Prohibit the use of Technology while at School

Brooks Huber, Reporter

  On March 14, the Florida State Senate introduced SB 1620, a bill that addresses mental health by traditional means while also aiming for students’ access to technology in school. The vague nature of the bill could lead to interference with students’ daily lives and the function of student-run establishments here at Newsome.

    The bill is primarily related to improving students’ access to mental health resources like guidance or trained psychologists and reducing students’ anxiety, depression, behavioral problems, and addiction. 

   While several resources are added, the bill only identifies and acts to regulate one source of students’ mental health problems: Technology. The bill requires students in need to have access to screenings and treatments for “Technology Addiction,” in addition to screenings for issues with the child or adolescent’s family. 

   The bill moves to solve this technology addiction by requiring that school boards create policies that “must include a prohibition on student use of a personal wireless communications device for any purpose during school hours.” While the punishment for violating is left up to the school board, the state would require the enforcement of this policy. This would apply to all public and private elementary, middle, and high schools. 

   The bill would also require policies that “prohibits an individual, including, but not limited to, a student, an employee, or a contractor, from posting online to any social media platform as defined in s.

501.2041 a student’s image created during school hours. Such policy must also prohibit the online sharing of any information that could identify the location of a student at the time the information is shared.” This is likely intended to prevent students from being tracked or doxxed. 

   While this legislation is intended to protect individual students, the bill does not list any exceptions for courses and student-run organizations that rely on these technology uses. Newsome’s yearbook and newspaper teams may be prevented from using photos of school events for their informative publications. Clubs like NHS and Newsome Theater that use social media for advertising upcoming events could also be affected.

   While this bill does good things by forcing school boards to make mental health professionals and crisis services easily accessible for students, the bill will have major consequences. It could threaten students’ creative freedom if passed in its current state.