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Cyber-addicted children and adolescents


Published in

El Diario Montañés

Gerardo Castillo Ceballos

Professor at the School of Education and Psychology at the University of Navarra.

There are parents who are not aware of the danger of abuse and misuse of the Internet by their children from an early age. Some boast about their children's progress in the use of cell phones and tablets, without limiting the number of hours they spend each day. Others encourage their children to spend even more time on the Internet for their own convenience, as entertainment to keep them quiet and not to be a nuisance.

These attitudes encourage a possible addiction to the Internet (cyberaddiction), at a time when, in general, there is an increase in this problem among children and adolescents. With the coronavirus pandemic, cases of addiction to the Internet and social networks increased exponentially. For children and adolescents, confinement meant spending more hours at home doing their homework online and interacting with their real and virtual friends through screens. These circumstances encouraged families to be more lax when it came to allowing Internet connection.

There is a danger that children may become dependent on technological devices, with effects such as the following: anxiety, behavioral problems, school failure, isolation, physical or psychological health problems associated with sedentary lifestyles, distorted vision of reality confusing the real with the virtual, and risk of cyberbullying. To all this we must add something also very worrying: the risk of these uncontrolled children contacting 'porn' images.

Real testimony of a teenager who needed financial aid therapy to overcome his addiction to the Internet: "I thought that being on the Internet all day long was normal, because everyone else was doing it. Surfing a social network was a way to isolate myself from the real problems that arise every day. Little by little I was isolating myself from the environment around me. The character of the network had overridden the real one. I had lost the ability to talk to people. My family members began to see the problem when I stopped relating to them."

Why is cyberaddiction more common in adolescence? Because it is the stage in which the Internet is becoming one of the main means of socialization. According to a study conducted by the Pfizer Foundation, 98% of adolescents and young people aged 11 to 20 years old are Username internet users. And of this percentage, 7 out of 10 claim to access network for a daily time of 1.5 hours. This is why teenagers, since they tend to connect more to the Internet, constitute the group most at risk. However, it can also affect adults.

A cartoon by Forges shows a dialogue between two shipwrecked sailors on a small desert island: "Q- It's a pity we ate the router: we could soon have six succulent megabytes. A- I was afraid of that, and on the day of the Internet". The most significant symptom of cyberaddiction is the "compulsive connection" that takes the form of the need to connect frequently many times a day. It leads to the loss of rational use and control of the Internet.

The origin of this problem can be external, for example, being in fashion and wanting to connect with friends who use this medium and put pressure on the uninitiated. But in some cases the cause is internal: a tendency to look to the Internet for a solution to psychological discomfort. The virtual world is often an escape route from the real world for adolescents with leave self-esteem and no social skills.

Parents can prevent cyberaddiction by following some rules. Keep up to date with the advances offered by technologies in order to know in which world their children are moving and to be able to accompany them and help them to use them in a meaningful way. promote Cultural Activities Office To use recreational and recreational activities as an alternative to the Internet. Establish rules for the use of digital devices such as maximum connection time and location. Determine which websites can and cannot be accessed. Encourage children from an early age to develop a healthy self-esteem; this way they will not seek "shelter" behind a fictitious image that they will invent on social networks.