Arabian Primary School in Helsinki has initiated a pilot collaboration with the National Brain Health Program coordinated by the Brain Association (Aivoliitto), the Central Union for Child Welfare (Lastensuojelun Keskusliitto), and the University of Eastern Finland. The aim of this partnership is to support students' well-being and brain health, including the reduction of mobile phone usage.

"At school, we are limiting phone usage during lessons and offering alternative activities without phones during breaks," says Mari Suokas-Laaksonen, the principal of Arabian Primary School. The collaboration began in late August 2023 during a school parent-teacher meeting, where information was provided about the development of children and adolescents' brains and the significance of brain protection.

The increased use of smartphones and their constant presence has been scientifically proven to disrupt the concentration of children and young people, hinder learning, and strain the brain.

"Emotion regulation and the strengthening of persistence are still developing in children and young people. Their brains cannot process the amount of information and immediate rewards that platforms like social media provide. We should be better at safeguarding the brains of children and young people," states Professor of Education Sciences Nina Sajaniemi from the University of Eastern Finland.

The pilot program offers information about brain health. Additionally, workshops will be organized for the agreed-upon classes of students, teachers, and parents. These workshops will involve collaborative discussions about what smart devices mean for users and how they impact well-being. Solutions and best practices for safe and brain-friendly device usage will also be explored during these workshops. The effects of these actions on students' well-being and brain health will be systematically monitored.

"Caring for the brain health of children and young people ensures a peaceful environment for growth and lays the foundation for lifelong well-being. This pilot helps create growth environments that support brain health for children and young people, taking into account their brain's normal, age-related developmental tasks," explains Markku Holmi, Program Manager of the National Brain Health Program at the Brain Association.

The pilot aims to establish effective practices for smart device usage in school, at home, and during leisure time, involving children, young people, and adults. Additionally, it will generate diverse information on the impact of these measures on brain health.