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Gatchalian wants use of mobile devices prohibited during school hours

SEN. Sherwin Gatchalian has filed a bill that will prohibit the use of mobile devices and other electronic gadgets during school hours from kindergarten to senior high school within the premises of all private and public schools nationwide.

In filing Senate Bill No. 2706 (Electronic Gadget-Free Schools Act) last June 4, Gatchalian said the use of mobile phones and other electronic gadgets during school hours causes distractions to students “that could adversely impact learning especially among learners at the basic education level.”

While mobile phones and other electronic devices are “gradually becoming a compelling learning tool” used to enhance teaching and learning, Gatchalian said their use during class hours can cause distractions that could adversely affect the learning of students at the basic education level.

“Empirical studies from other countries have revealed that excessive use of mobile devices negatively affects learners’ performance in two ways. First, it affects performance directly as greater use of the phone while studying is correlated with a greater impact on grades or scores. Second, it affects performance indirectly because the learners’ skills and cognitive abilities needed for academic success are also negatively affected by excessive phone use,” Gatchalian said in the bill’s explanatory note.

Gatchalian, who chairs the Committee on Basic Education, also cited 2022 data from the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) which showed the negative effect of using mobile gadgets to learners.

“(The study) showed that 8 in every 10 Filipino learners aged 15 reported that they got distracted in class by using their smartphones, and 8 in every 10 also reported that they got distracted in class by other students who are using smartphones,” he said.

He said the study also showed that the use of smartphones during class hours is correlated with a decrease in performance of about 9.3 points in mathematics, 12.2 points in science, and 15.04 points in reading.

Aside from the decrease in learners’ academic performance, Gatchalian said that access to such devices “seems likely to mediate involvement in cyberbullying.”

“Hence, the use of