Ban cellphones for those under 21?

Published: Jan. 9, 2020 at 12:25 PM EST
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A Vermont lawmaker is proposing a ban on cellphones for people under 21. Violations could mean fines or even prison time. Our Olivia Lyons spoke with the senator who proposed it to learn more about it, and with community members to get their reaction.

"If you make that illegal, all you're going to do is force people to do something that is now illegal, because everyone is still going to get a phone and use a phone and then you're just punishing youth for doing something that they have been able to do for the longest time," said Bailey West, 20.

West was reacting to Sen. John Rodgers' proposed bill to prohibit anyone under the age of 21 from possessing a cellphone.

And he isn't alone. Even Rodgers himself says he wouldn't vote for his bill.

"It's more to prove a point," said Rodgers, D-Essex-Orleans Counties. "If we're going to allow 18-year-olds to vote and join the military and such, they should have all the rest of the rights."

Rodgers' proposal states cellphone use while driving is the leading killer of teenagers in the United States. Youth use the devices to bully and threaten others, access the internet to radicalize and recruit terrorists, fascists and other extremists, as well as to research mass shootings. It also adds that persons under 21 are not developmentally mature enough to possess them, much like firearms, cigarettes and alcohol.

But community members WCAX News spoke with disagree with a complete ban.

"Every parent needs to know where their kids are. Yes, there are people that abuse the system, driving with the phone, but it's over the top," said Avisa Tuiqere of Charlotte.

"I'd support restrictions around use in vehicles and things like that, but it's more a matter of educating kids about appropriate use of cellphones," said Pascal Cheng of Burlington.

"It's something about people need to be educated about the use of cellphone just as much as guns," Rodgers said.

The bill proposes a year in jail or a fine of up to $1,000 for violations.