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Being a child in a hyper-connected world

Being a child in a hyper-connected world

What effects does the hyperconnected society have on minors? How does it affect your education and skills? How can the little ones learn to make responsible use of new technologies? Ethic and Telefónica brought together a renowned group of experts at the Impact Hub Madrid to find answers to some key questions to understand the 21st century.

Parents check their teenage daughter's browser history. In it, pages about life like trans. When, the next morning, they meet at the kitchen table to discuss the matter - there are things that do not change - they both try to show their support by saying that they will always love her, regardless of her gender. She, flustered, takes them out of their mistake: she does not feel comfortable in her body, but she is not transsexual, she is trans… Human. You want to leave your meat behind and download your personality in the cloud to be data. Terrified by what she sees as a technological euphemism for suicide, her mother promises that she will cut their connection and go analog if necessary to get those ideas out of her head.

That is one of the first dystopian realities to arise in Years and years, the HBO miniseries that puts us before a mirror to make us see how we can be - or will be - in a handful of years if we do not address populist, climate and technological challenges. The character of the young Bethany Bisme-Lyons, unable to separate herself from her phone and Snapchat filters, reflects an extreme situation, but not so different from what is already lived in homes: children with access to increasingly powerful technologies in a digital world that changes and grows even faster than them.

As is almost always the case, the dilemma - and the first and crucial decisions - on the matter lies with your parents. When to buy your first mobile? Should I monitor the apps that are downloaded? How long can I leave the tablet? “With minors there are no written rules: when new ways of understanding society emerge, parents have to overcome our fears. If we put obstacles to digital learning, we lose an important part of our children's lives because, although times change, the values ​​that we must instill in them are the same ”, introduced Elena Valderrábano, Telefónica's Global Director of Corporate Ethics and Sustainability, at the beginning of the debate Minors in the hyperconnected society. The meeting, organized by Ethic In collaboration with the telecommunications company, it brought together experts in education and technology to discuss how to manage the digital environment in which the little ones swim.

Bottom, from left to right: Fernando Cerro, María Zabala, ElenaValderrábano, Antonio Milan, Ofelia Tejerina, Ana Santos and MaríaGaldo.

It is a question of limits as diffuse as the sea, to which is added the knowledge gap between children born with it. smartphone under your arm and parents who do not always know the possibilities of increasingly intelligent devices. “We have to learn how the digital world works in order to advise our children, taking into account what the world is like and what they are like. We do not do it great, but not as bad as they continually tell us, "said the journalist expert in digital citizenship María Zabala in a certain call for optimism. «It is about understanding the childhood and adolescence that they have had to live, with risks and opportunities different from ours. That is why we have to assume our role as responsible adults and know that we have to inform ourselves and learn, "he concludes.

Elena Valderrábano: "If we put obstacles to digital learning, we lose an important part of our children's lives"

Getting used to using the latest generation devices, exploring popular applications among teenagers - TikTok exceeded 1,500 million downloads in November - or knowing how to configure parental control systems are some of the duties that children place on their parents, but they are not the tasks. “The Internet is a tool to exercise fundamental rights, but it is also an environment in which they can be violated: a crime of injuries can be generated through the network, just as the right to privacy, the protection of data, freedom of expression or information ", warned Ofelia Tejerina, lawyer and president of the Association of Internet Users. With this, the expert put on the table the difference between minors having the right to safe access to the Internet and this being the subject of a claim in court, although today discussions about the time of use of phones and tablets are as common as they were those that occurred about the time of arrival at home in more analog times.

The usual headlines reporting serious cases of cyberbullying–According to Unicef, in Spain at least two minors in each classroom suffer from harassment or violence on the Internet– and sexual crimes make parents more aware of the dangers of the networks than of their benefits. «When we talk about protection we talk about prohibiting, controlling, supervising ... But we must put the focus on training, training, reflecting and helping. The protection of the minor requires strategies that have to be in accordance with their needs and maturity, ”highlighted Ana Santos, head of the Office of Internet Security (OSI) at Incibe, who emphasized the concept of shared responsibility. «We have to promote behaviors of respect or tolerance in the networks,promote the balanced use of time and content and help them find truthful information, in addition to teaching them to ask for help if something happens to them. A comprehensive action that has to be done from many areas of society, from the school to the police or the telecommunications service providers, "he claimed.

Digital education in the liquid society

However, finding the balance between responsible use and the protection of minors is not easy. At the end of last December, the Community of Madrid announced that it will modify the autonomous regulations to prohibit the use of mobile phones in classrooms from the next academic year - until now, the competence of each center -. According to its promoters, the measure is aimed at « improve the academic results of students and fight against cyberbullying ”, which is why the use of telephones and electronic devices will be explicitly prohibited during school periods.


María Zabala and Elena Valderrábano.

The Madrid executive's announcement puts the debate on the didactic use of technology back on the table, defended by some teachers and an object of study –and I am suspicious– for neuropsychologists who assess its impact on the early stages of the child's brain development. “We cannot demonize social media because, if we do, our children put us on the enemy side. Technology is an opportunity for personal development and, although these issues worry us, we have to put an end to the fear that they cause us ”, asked AntonioMilán, doctor in Education and expert in education and the use of new technologies. However, it also warned about the role that the network plays in self-injurious behaviors in cases of anorexia or bulimia and also in the proliferation of sports betting, a new and dangerous form of leisure among adolescents. «You have to know how to convey opportunities without ignoring risks: let's encourage them to create accounts of people who inspire them to achieve their dreams, who learn to tell stories. The what has not changed but the how», He concluded.

TikTok, the fashion network among teenagers, surpasses 1,500 million downloads

These new stories have clear protagonists: the influencers, new figures of reference for the youngest, who no longer only focus on actors, athletes or singers to establish them as idols. With the views and likes of hundreds of thousands - even millions - of followers, they are also a luxury showcase for brands. . «The problem is not that they influence the consumption habits of minors, but rather that they influence attitudes in life with some content that is not made for them. Parents should know what they see and what they don't: In the end, it is to control your environment, but knowing that it is very big today, ”warns Fernando Cerro, co-founder and CEO at Influencialia.

In the end, the daily dramas and fears of the pubescent and their parents are not so different from those of always, although now technology has blurred the limits of their world. «We adolescent girls in the eighties and nineties bought all the Superpop And it wasn't precisely because of his cultural interviews. Not all teenagers can have an interest in Kafka and we cannot pretend that they like what we want»Concludes María Zabala. But, amid the complaints about the frivolity of the networks and the constant alert about their dangers, new horizons are also emerging in another type of digital entertainment: for example, Ter's video - who has accumulated more than 700,000 subscribers on YouTube - explaining the architectural reasons for the collapse of Notre Dame already exceeds a million reproductions. Those of Jaime Altozano –with almost two million subscribers– analyzing the Shazam algorithm or musical fashions since the 1950s add up to almost four million visits.

By Guadalupe Bécares Source: Ethic

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