In home office since March of last year, systems analyst Bruna Rafaela Paiva, 35, ended up letting her son Samuel, 6, who has also been at home since the beginning of the pandemic, to spend more time in front of the TV and on the internet.
“We’re going to go into a work meeting and then we’re free to watch TV. Then we amend another meeting and there are more demands and, when we see it, the child spent all day on TV.”
Like Paiva, 9 out of 10 (89%) parents of children aged between 6 and 18 years say that children and adolescents spent more time in front of screens, such as TV, cell phone or video games, during the pandemic.
The Datafolha survey, commissioned by the C6 Bank to measure the impacts of the pandemic on education, also shows other effects of the quarantine imposed by the coronavirus on the behavior of children and adolescents: for 69% of parents, their children became more dependent; for 64%, they were more irritated, anxious or stressed; for 54%, their children gained weight; for 52%, they were sadder; and, for 45%, the children started to complain that they feel alone.
“We notice that he is sadder, misses his friends and teachers and is even more anxious. He’s been biting his nails even when he’s watching TV. We’re thinking about taking him to a psychologist and we’ve also limited time on TV and on the internet,” says Paiva.
For the survey, Datafolha interviewed 2,079 Brazilians over the age of 16 in person, between the 10th and 14th of May, in all regions of the country. Of the total, 744 declared having children between 6 and 18 years old. The margin of error is two percentage points, more or less, in the total sample, and four percentage points, more or less, in the sample of parents of children and adolescents.
According to the institute, 24% of Brazilian adults have children aged between 6 and 18 years. Of these, 15% have a child; 7% two children and 2% three or more children in this age group.
Among those who have children in this age group, 95% stated that children and adolescents are enrolled in schools, with 81% in public network units, 12% in private network and 1% did not respond.
Of those enrolled, 91% had access to distance learning during the pandemic. In those on the private network, this index reaches 99%. Among those enrolled in the public network, the rate drops to 90%.
The evaluation of the experience with remote learning divided the parents’ opinions: 38% rated it as excellent or good; 30% as regular and 31% as bad or terrible. The pass rate is higher among those enrolled in the private network, with 43% – compared to 37% for parents of children in public schools.
Satisfaction with remote learning also changes with the student’s age. Among the oldest, aged 16 to 18, the approval rate reaches 45%. For parents who have children between 6 and 10 years, it drops to 36%.
The research also contemplated the negative effects of distance learning. The biggest problem – pointed out by 46% of parents – was the learning disability. Discontent is greater, reaching 53%, in the share of those who have children aged between 6 and 10 years.
The second biggest complaint among parents is the loss of ability to concentrate. Four out of ten say that their child cannot keep up during the entire period of the remote class, as described by Paiva.
“Samuel even starts the class attentive, but as there are many hours in front of the computer, there are times when he disperses. Get up, want to jump, play. The teachers make an effort, but you can’t pay attention all the time, especially for children of this age.”
Datafolha also shows that some negative impacts of remote learning are felt differently between students in public and private schools.
The most significant differences were in the items lack of coexistence of friends, teachers and the school, with 9% among students in the private network and 2% among those enrolled in state, municipal and federal schools; affected psychological, mentioned by 23% of those who are part of the private network, compared to 15% in the public; loss in the interest of the school, registered by 36% of public school students, compared to 28% of private ones, and the worsening of food due to the lack of school lunches, which was pointed out by 11% of parents of public school students and by 4% of who have children in private units.
For 9%, distance learning had no negative effect. Once again, the approval of the educational modality is higher among parents of adolescents aged 16 to 18 years (14%) than among those with children aged 6 to 10 years (6%).
Among those interviewed with enrolled children, 73% are not taking them to the classroom and another 27% have sent children and teenagers to schools – this rate reaches 55% among students in the private network.
The main reason given by parents for not taking their children to schools is because the units have not reopened for on-site classes, which accounts for 65% of spontaneous mentions in the survey.
Other reasons mentioned were: worsening of the pandemic (13%), to avoid the risk of being contaminated by Covid-19 (7%), the child or adolescent has health problems (6%) and the school does not guarantee the student safety (6%).
But the item with the greatest percentage difference between the responses of parents of children in public and private networks is the fact that there is still no vaccine for everyone. While this was pointed out as an impediment to face-to-face return by 20% of parents of students from private institutions, it was cited by only 5% of those who have children in public schools.