Teacher Jeff Yasinchuk says he’s seen a decline in students’ ability to concentrate, and increases in their anxiety level, since they started bringing smartphones to school around 2012. Photo: Bill Metcalfe

LETTER: Parents praise teacher for smartphone switch

Lesson learned for everyone, says two parents

(Re: Smartphones in class impede learning, Star, Feb. 2)

Bravo – not tweeted, but in good old newspaper print – to teacher-librarian Jeff Yasinchuk for sharing his change in heart and mind on the use of smartphones in schools and its impact on students: from internet aficionado to smartphone alerter.

What really got to us and drove home the detrimental effects of enabling constant smartphone use by allowing smartphones in schools are Mr. Yaz’s first hand experiences and observations in the children: inability to concentrate, feeling overwhelmed, declining reading ability, degrading social interaction and social competency, increased depression and anxiety. He sees it right in front of his eyes, every day at school – that hits home for a concerned parent.

Luckily, one does not need to travel to France to find a smartphone free school environment. The Nelson Waldorf School has a no cell phone/smartphone policy on its school grounds. For good reason: Creativity, hands-on learning, healthy social skills, time and movement outdoors, kicking a ball with friends and running in the woods cannot be gained through children either sitting in isolation absorbed by their smartphone apps or huddling in groups to share screen time.

The world our children are growing up in is full of technology and devices – there is no way to ignore that. But we need to help our children to manage them. If we want our children to be creative team players, who can build trusted and lasting relationships with humans and not artificial intelligence apps, we need to teach them to handle technology in a healthy way. One of them being that you don’t need constant access to your phone. It’s okay to take a break from craving the next “like” online.

Of course, the same holds for us adults – we need to lead by example and take a break from our smartphones for genuine human interactions.

You’re right, Mr. Yaz, we don’t need smartphones in our schools. That is leading edge.

Gerda Hammerer and Julius Halaschek-Wiener, (Parents of two pre-teen sons)

Nelson

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