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The Marietta City School Board approves a new initiative to curb the use of personal smart devices during the school day.

In a unanimous 7-0 vote, the Marietta City School Board approves a new initiative to curb the use of personal smart devices during the school day at Marietta Sixth Grade Academy (MSGA) and Marietta Middle School (MMS). The move, which follows input from parents, students, and staff, is backed by national research highlighting the detrimental effects of excessive device use on student well-being.

Starting Aug. 1, students at MSGA and MMS will be required to place their cell phones and smartwatches in Yondr pouches at the beginning of each school day. These pouches lock with a proprietary magnet, ensuring devices remain secure throughout the day. Students will keep the locked pouches with them until the end of the school day, ensuring minimal disruptions during class. Exceptions will be made for students with documented medical conditions.

“Cell phones, smartwatches, and social media have significant impacts on our students’ learning and mental health,” says Superintendent Dr. Grant Rivera. “School should be a place to learn and grow; that can’t happen if students are distracted by their phones. This solution will create a more focused and supportive educational environment.”

Research done by Common Sense Media (2021 and 2023) and the U.S. Surgeon General highlights the need for these measures. Young people are receiving an average of 237 notifications and spending more than 5 hours on their devices every day. Most of that time is spent gaming or on social media.

Research shows frequent social media use in children can affect brain development and emotional learning, doubling the risk of poor mental health outcomes like depression and anxiety when used for over 3 hours daily.

“By curbing the use of smartphones and smartwatches, we enhance academic focus and encourage meaningful face-to-face student interactions,” says MCS Board Chair Jeff DeJarnett. “We have never been as connected as we are now, and that is not always a good thing. We have to have parameters in place to ensure our kids have the best chance of success. This initiative is critical in supporting our students’ overall development.”

The vote on the implementation of the Yondr pouches comes after extensive community engagement, including parent meetings, student focus groups, and surveys. This collaborative approach ensures that the solution not only addresses the concerns of educators but also aligns with the expectations of families.

“We believe this solution will set the standard for how schools can manage the impact of technology on education,” Dr. Rivera adds. “Our commitment to our students’ learning and mental health is unwavering, and we are confident this initiative will make a significant difference.”

To further support this initiative, Marietta City Schools will provide resources and materials to help families manage digital use at home and understand the potential impacts of social media on children’s mental health and development.

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