Vera Cruz families ask for a ban on cell phones at school – 02/23/2024 – Education

Vera Cruz families ask for a ban on cell phones at school – 02/23/2024 – Education


A group of families from Vera Cruz, a school in São Paulo that is a reference in pedagogy, sent a letter to the management asking that the use of cell phones by students be prohibited throughout the school environment, both in classes and during breaks and recess.

The document, called an Open Letter to the Management, began circulating this week among groups of parents and as of this Thursday (22) had 818 signatures — the school, which is located in Pinheiros (west zone), has 1,800 students enrolled.

The demand from families is part of a movement, which is growing in Brazil and other countries, in favor of expanding restrictions and even banning cell phones in schools, with the aim of containing the damage caused by excessive use of the device to mental health and to the learning of children and adolescents.

Restricting cell phones was strongly recommended in a UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) report last year, which highlighted research showing a negative association between the use of technology and student performance.

At the beginning of this school year, Escola Castanheiras, located in Tamboré, a neighborhood of high-end condominiums in Barueri, in Greater São Paulo, launched the Celular Zero na Escola movement. The device was banned from school completely, with the support of the majority of families. Now, through the Castanheiras Institute, linked to the school and which works to train public school teachers, the experience of banning cell phones and how to do it will be shared free of charge with public and private institutions, with the advice of experts.

The result, in just a few days since the start of classes, is already a significant improvement in students’ concentration during classes and in their coexistence with each other. Students are talking and playing more, playing sports and reading more books.

At Vera Cruz, parents state in the letter that, for them, “the use of cell phones does not encourage moments of socialization”, on the contrary, it restricts them. They say that the presence of the device at school exposes children “to harmful and addictive content and applications, not necessarily permitted for their age group.”

The letter also mentions the risk of students taking unauthorized images, “which could cause damage to mental health and serious long-term consequences.” For families, “allowing cell phones during school hours, especially during breaks and recess, conveys the idea that their use is normal and expected.”

They request, therefore, that the rule currently in force, of not using them in the classroom, be reinforced, and that families and schools move forward, together, towards “the clear and unequivocal prohibition of the use of cell phones by students, throughout the period in which they are under Vera’s care, including recess, breaks, lunch, among others”.

On Wednesday (21), two days after receiving the parents’ letter, Vera’s management published rules for cell phones at school. The use remained vetoed until the 5th year, as before.

From the 6th year onwards, the school chose to maintain the ban on classes, but decided not to extend the ban to recess and breaks. He added, however, that he recommends that students not take their cell phones to school. The text points to studies on the harm caused by social networks, which “can lead to addiction and consumerism with serious consequences for everyone and especially dramatic consequences for many children and adolescents”.

A Sheet Regina Scarpa, pedagogical director at Vera Cruz, stated that the school respects and supports the families’ movement.

“It’s a convergent concern with the school,” he says. “We converge not on doing exactly what they demand, at least not for now, but on fulfilling our responsibility in training a critical citizen, including the relationship with the digital universe”, he stated.

For now, says Regina, Vera prefers to follow the path of recommendation, rather than prohibition, in an attempt “to give students a vote of confidence” and help them “in the progressive construction of autonomy”. “If students don’t want to take their cell phones to school, great, we won’t need them for any educational activities. And, if necessary, we will provide devices controlled by us, without social networks.”

Regina says that the rules may change, depending on the progress of research in this area and how reality plays out in the day-to-day life of the school itself. Currently, according to her, most students in grades 6 to 9 do not use their cell phones during recess. “In high school they use it more, even to pay for lunch, order food, etc.”

Director of Castanheiras and specialist in teacher training, Claudia Siqueira has a different approach. For her, the growing cell phone addiction throughout society requires the school to ban it. In her view, leaving control to children and young people ends up being harmless, as well as unfair. “It’s a new pandemic, we are living like zombies, with our heads down, immersed in our cell phones. If not even adults can control this use, how can we demand this from children and teenagers?”

She says that, when the school announced that it would ban the use of cell phones, 3rd year high school students came to her to demand that, as they were in their final year, they were not forced to leave the device in the boxes with the coordinator. “I agreed, I said that they could then take responsibility for turning off their cell phones and not using them at school,” she said. “But 40% of them ended up saying they couldn’t control themselves and preferred the device to be kept by the school.”

The methods for restricting cell phones and banning them are expanding. In Rio, the ban became law for municipal schools. At the private school Alef Peretz, in Jardim Paulistano, west of São Paulo, as shown in Sheeta fanny pack was adopted that locks the cell phone.

The ban in schools gained strong support in Brazil, from doctor and public health scientist Daniel Becker.

“Recess is a fundamental moment for children, where they will learn crucial life skills”, he says, in a video. “It’s a place to play, talk, learn about yourself, develop communication, move around. A place of noise, laughter. And today [com o celular] It’s silent. How can we destroy such an important moment in childhood?”


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