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Dem Lawmaker Introduces Bill That Would Put Alcohol-Like Age Restrictions on Cellphone Use

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A Vermont state Senator introduced a bill that would make it illegal for people under the age of 21 to have, own or use a cellphone.

The bill, proposed by Democratic Sen. John Rodgers, would subject people under the age of 21 to a maximum fine of $1,000 and up to a year in prison should they be caught with a device in their possession.

A number of findings were included in the bill to argue for its implementation.

“The use of cell phones while driving is one of the leading killers of teenagers in the United States,” the bill reads.

“According to the United States Department of Transportation, cell phones are involved in 1.6 million automobile crashes each year, causing half a million injuries and 6,000 deaths. Each day, 11 teenagers die in automobile crashes in this country.”

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The bill also argued that young people under the age of 21 often use cell phones to cyberbully and threaten others, which are activities that can lead to suicide. Another finding stated that cellphones are used to mobilize people who cause harm to society.

“The Internet and social media, accessed primarily through cell phones, are used to radicalize and recruit terrorists, fascists, and other extremists,” the bill reads. “Cell phones have often been used by mass shooters of younger ages for research on previous shootings.”

According to the bill, the conclusion of these findings is that people under 21 have not matured enough to have cell phones.

“In light of the dangerous and life-threatening consequences of cellphone use by young people, it is clear that persons under 21 years of age are not developmentally mature enough to safely possess them, just as the General Assembly has concluded that persons under 21 years of age are not mature enough to possess firearms, smoke cigarettes or consume alcohol.”

Do you think this bill is ridiculous?

According to Vermont state law, a person must be at least 21 years old to buy tabacco products or guns (unless they take a hunter safety course). The age to legally drink alcohol has been 21 since the federal Uniform Minimum Drinking Age Act of 1984.

Michelle Fay, executive director of Voices for Vermont’s children, said in a statement to The Barre Montpelier Times Argus on Wednesday that while technology undoubtedly plays a roll in bullying, outlawing cellphone use among young people will not make a difference because they will still be allowed access to computers.

She said cyberbullying could be better avoided by teaching children conflict resolution skills and accountability.

According to Fay, parents need their kids to have cellphones in order to keep in touch with them. Most of the calls that teens receive are from their parents.

Furthermore, Fay argued that since texting and driving is already illegal, the focus should instead be on distracted driving.

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“For teenagers, people in their car is a bigger distraction than cellphones,” she said.

According to the Times Argus, Rodgers said on Wednesday that he introduced the bill to make a point.

Rodgers said he is a strong supporter of the 2nd Amendment and believes that the Legislature “seems bent on taking away our Second Amendment rights.” Rodgers said that his bill’s findings argue that a cell phone is more dangerous than a gun.

“I have no delusions that it’s going to pass,” he said. “I wouldn’t probably vote for it myself.”

The bill was referred to the Vermont Senate Committee on Judiciary, as it “has jurisdiction over matters relating to judicial and legal affairs; and motor vehicle and homeowner liability insurance.”

Out of the five senators on the Committee, four of them are Democrats and one of them is a Republican.

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Skye Malmberg started out as an editorial intern for The Western Journal in 2019 and has since become a Staff Writer. Ever since she was 10 years old, she has had a passion for writing stories and reporting local news. Skye is currently completing her bachelors degree in Communications.
Skye Malmberg started out as an editorial intern for The Western Journal in 2019 and has since become a Staff Writer. Ever since she was 10 years old, she has had a passion for writing stories and reporting local news. Skye is currently completing her bachelors degree in Communications.




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