New Poll Shows Parents Are Against Cell Phone Ban in Schools; Raise Alarm Over Negative Effects of Social Media on Children

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National Parents Union survey finds parents are most concerned about inappropriate content, predators & cyberbullying

Boston, MA, March 13, 2024– The National Parents Union today released a new poll of parents of K-12 students on the issue of cell phones in schools and social media usage among children. It is clear that parents don’t view cell phone usage and social media usage the same.

The survey found that the majority of parents want their children to have access to their cell phones during the school day, with reasonable limits on when the devices can be used. The majority of parents do not want schools to lock up students’ phones and see the value in connectivity for issues such as getting in touch in case of an emergency and to coordinate transportation to and from school.

Parents are, however, concerned about the negative effects that social media is having on children and their mental health, and more than eight-in-ten parents support a minimum age limit for social media.

When it comes to cell phones in school, parents lack trust in having schools keep phones away from their children during the day. 43% of parents say their child’s school bans cell phone use unless they have a medical condition for which it is needed, but only 32% support this policy. The majority of parents (56%) believe students should sometimes be allowed to use their cell phones in school, during times like lunch or recess, at athletic events and in class for academic purposes approved by their teacher.

Parents do want to limit cell phone usage in school to avoid distractions with widespread support for banning it during class when used for purposes other than academics, like texting or entertainment. The cell phone policy should be made at the school or district level, the majority of parents (57%) say.

When it comes to social media, parents are concerned about the impact of social media on their kids.  83% of parents support a minimum age limit on when kids should be allowed to have their own social media accounts.

Among those that support the age limit, the plurality (20%) believe 13 years of age should be the minimum age for social media accounts. Asked about cell phone use among children both in and out of school, parents say they are worried about the following negative effects on their kids:

  • Expose them to inappropriate content 63%
  • Expose them to predators 60%
  • Expose them to cyberbullying 57%
  • Interfere with their learning 49%
  • Negatively affect their mental health 44%
  • Negatively affect their social skills 42%
  • Lead to bad behavior 41%


Keri Rodrigues, President of the National Parents Union, said, 

“It’s 2024 – and all families rely on cell phones to stay connected and communicate now more than ever.  Whether it’s connecting in case of an emergency, planning after school logistics or even if a child is feeling anxious about an issue in school and needs positive reinforcement or advice – it’s clear that parents want to be able to have clear and open channels of communication with their own children. Banning cell phones outright in school or treating them like contraband instead of using effective classroom management is entirely unreasonable and not grounded in the reality we will live in.

However, the issue of how social media impacts our children is rightfully of great concern for parents given the prevalence and harmful effects that we can see playing out in our own homes as well as at school. Every minute a child spends on social media they could be exposed to inappropriate content, bullying or mental health triggers – and they’re looking for effective policy solutions to help them navigate these new challenges.”

Cell Phone Usage Among Children 

  • The majority of kids received their first cell phone when they were between 10-13 years olds
  • Nearly eight-in-ten (78%) parents say their child uses a cell phone for more than two hours per day, with the plurality (29%) reporting their kid uses it for 4-5 hours daily
    • Parents more likely to view their child’s phone use as having a positive effect when they use it less than 3 hours per day
  • Parents say children are using cell phones for the following purposes
    • Call or text family members 89%
    • Play games 79%
    • Call or text friends 78%
    • Listen to music 76%
    • Take photos or record videos 75%
    • Use social media (e.g., Instagram, TikTok, Facebook, YouTube) 65%
    • Use apps or tools for school or homework 58%
    • Assist with a medical condition or disability they have 6%


National Parents Union Survey

N=1,506 parents of public school students in grades kindergarten through 12th grade
Sample from online web panels
Field Dates: February 6-8, 2024
Margin of sampling error: ± 2.9 percentage points
Click here for toplines.



With nearly 1,500 affiliated parent organizations in all 50 states, Washington, D.C. and Puerto Rico, the National Parents Union is the united, independent voice of modern American families. We channel the power of parents into powerful policies that improve the lives of children, families and communities across the United States.