By Alex P. Vidal 

“My cell phone is my best friend. It’s my lifeline to the outside world.”  —Carrie Underwood

THE beauty of democracy, like in the Philippines, is any legislator can sponsor a bill—good or bad—but (and) it will be up to the bicameral assemblies to support and adopt it before transmitting it to the executive office for approval.

In the same manner that we have quality and mediocre senators and representatives, some of the bills gathering cobwebs in Congress are better forgotten than calendared for deliberations.

I may not agree with Senator Win Gatchalian’s Senate Bill No. 2706 otherwise known as the Electronic Gadget-Free Schools Act, but I hope it will not be given priority in the upper chamber.

It is so frivolous, too trivial, and full of loopholes, to say the least.

Under the measure, the Department of Education (DepEd) will be mandated to promulgate guidelines on the prohibition of mobile devices and electronic gadget use within school premises during class hours.


Common sense will tell us even without Gatchalian’s bill (let’s hope it will not become a law), school authorities—at least in the Philippines—neither condone nor give permission to any student and faculty member to use their electronic gadgets “during class hours.”

Gatchalian’s argument and justifications for introducing the prosaic bill are axiomatic.

He cited results of the 2022 Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) which reportedly showed that 8 in 10 learners aged 15 reported being distracted by smartphone use during class, but the distraction doesn’t and cannot happen if the students and faculty members, for logical reasons and common sense, stay away from the electronic gadgets during class hours.

The same number of learners also reported being distracted by other learners’ smartphone use “during class hours.”

Again, there can be and should be no distractions if these learners will only be allowed to operate their electronic gadgets “after class hours” or when they are no longer within their schools’ parameters.

PISA results also reportedly reveal that distraction due to smartphone use during class 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.


The guidelines shall apply to learners from kindergarten to senior high school in both public and private basic education institutions. Teachers are likewise prohibited from using mobile devices and electronic gadgets during class hours.

Gatchalian acknowledged that while mobile devices and electronic gadgets can be compelling tools to enhance learning and teaching, he pointed out how they can cause distractions that could adversely impact learning, especially among basic education learners.

He pointed out: “Aside from decrease in learners’ academic performance, access to such devices seems likely to mediate involvement in cyberbullying that is why the use of mobile devices and other electronic gadgets must be restricted, especially during class hours.”

The proposed measure, however, provides some exceptions: learning related-exceptions such as classroom presentation or class-based learning activities; health and well-being-related exceptions such as learners with health conditions and require the use of mobile devices and electronic gadgets; and exceptions related to managing risks such as emergencies, response to perceived threats or dangers, and during field trips or activities outside school premises.

The measure’s rationale cited the 2023 Global Education Monitoring Report, where the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization recommended stricter regulation on mobile phone use in class. The report found that only 13 percent of countries in the world have laws partially or fully banning mobile phone use in schools, while 14 percent have policies, strategies, or guidelines for the same purpose.


AVOID TROUBLE IN THE SOCIAL MEDIA. May I respectfully suggest the following:

  1. BE HUMBLE. Refrain from feeling “sikat” (famous), special, entitled and important. Always plant our feet on the ground. No one should feel or think superior. “Ownership” of a social media account is not a special power or privilege. We are all at the beck and mercy of the Facebook and X (Twitter) administrators who have the authorities to terminate our accounts any time if we misbehave.
  2. DON’T EMBARRASS OTHERS. If we don’t like or don’t agree with the comments or posts of others especially on topics about religion and politics, don’t embarrass them. All opinions matter. Avoid provocative and insulting comments. Don’t do to others what we wouldn’t want others do unto us. Respect begets respect. We can’t win an argument by employing bullying or ad hominem tactics. We don’t have the exclusive franchise to humiliate others; if we think otherwise, expect a retaliation and a slanderous or bastosan brawl.
  3. BE NICE; BE DECENT. Use the social media to foster camaraderie and win friends (especially with those we haven’t met yet in person). Avoid the use of expletives and hurting words. If we have nothing good to say or post, post or say nothing. Just in case we inadvertently forget to “like” good and kind comments, always reply with a “thank you.”
  4. NO CURSING. If we have a domestic spat with our partners, children, parents, officemates, employers, employees; and if we disagree with our electric and phone bills, don’t declare an Armageddon in the social media. Protect the social media’s internal ecosystem with quality and above-board interaction; don’t poison the social media community with laser-laced profanities if we are galit sa mundo (mad at the universe).
  5. DON’T GOSSIP; DON’T SOW INTRIGUES. Gossiping and sowing of intrigues are the No. 1 killers of friendship, goodwill, and peace of mind; the No. 1 promoters of feud, bedlam, deep-seated strife in the social media. Let’s altogether discard and detest them.

(The author, who is now based in New York City, used to be the editor of two daily newspapers in Iloilo. – Ed)


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