«My son turned 12 on Sunday and he doesn’t have a cell phone nor will he have one. But in his class almost everyone has it. “I don’t conceive it.” The words of Merciwritten in the Telegram group Mobile-Free Adolescencesummarize the general feeling of the fathers and mothers of this community created last Friday to delay the delivery of the smartphone to teenagers.
In just six days, what began as a private conversation between a group of families in the Barcelona neighborhood of New town has become an unprecedented social phenomenon, a self-managed tide that has spread in record time across 11 autonomous communities to stop the worrying growth of uncontrolled use of social networks, the Internet and video games by minors. At press time, the group had almost 9.000 members, among whom are the greatest authorities in Medicine, Psychology and Data Protection.
Parents have made it a habit to buy a cell phone for their children when they start going to school alone, at age 12, in order to keep track of them. He 85% of children aged 12 to 14 have their own telephone, according to INE. A recent survey of the Barcelona Provincial Council to 4th year ESO students (15-16 years old) points out that the 40% of students admit to making “excessive” use of the Internet that prevents them from carrying out other necessary activities. It is double the 21% that was in the 2015/2016 academic year.
«We want to delay the arrival of mobile phones in the lives of our children and to reverse that social pressure that leads to the transition from 6th grade of Primary to 1st ESO, they have to have a cell phone. This is about empowering families, who should be able to decide about their children’s digital use. They can do it, yes, but together it is much easier to reduce social pressure. We must change an entrenched social consensus,” he explains. Xavier Casanovasone of the spokespersons for the Poblenou group, still surprised by the great reception that his proposal has had in such a short time.
How did it all come about? «The initiative was born because a mother opened a WhatsApp group with other mothers to share news that worried them about the use of mobile phones in children. In a few days that group was filled, as it reached 1.000 personas. We decided to coordinate with other schools and at the neighborhood level. I am from another school in Poblenou. “We got together as a driving group and set an agenda and a positioning and on Friday we created the Telegram group,” says Casanovas.