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Gerardo Castillo Ceballos, School of Education and Psychology of the University of Navarra
Today's children: self-reliant and stressed out
We live in the "everything at a click" society. Today's man is dominated by haste. Hurry is the desire or need to hurry. Why is man in such a hurry today? One of the possible causes is the desire to have many things as soon as possible in order to live more comfortably. The more things one has, the more things one wants to have. It is a thirst that leads to an accelerated search for successive satisfactions and immediate pleasures.
The accelerated way of living is a serious obstacle for the inner freedom of man, who loses his self-control, that which used to be called endurance and endurance. Man is losing not only the capacity of Withdrawal, but also the capacity for resilience in the face of pain. This is contagious. It has a "call effect", especially for children. We parents are role models for our children; therefore, if we are not able to stop and wait, neither will they.
These same children complain that all of their time is filled with imposed occupations, that there are no moments to play, that every day is the same, and that they end up exhausted. Their schedule of work is similar to that of professional workers: they get up as early or even earlier than they do; their backpacks are bigger than the executive briefcases of business, and they are affected by a stress that is no less worrying.
Stress is produced by the demand of a performance much higher than normal, which when not achieved, produces physical or mental alteration and frustration staff. But without forgetting that stress has a positive component, with beneficial effects for the organism, if it is moderate. On some occasions, we all need a certain amount of stress, a certain activation to fulfill a specific duty.
Mariano Narodowski, an illustrious Argentine pedagogue, argues that the media and super-technified culture is creating new children's identities, such as, for example, that of the "hyper-realized childhood": children go through the infancy period at a dizzying pace thanks to the new technologies, acquiring an instrumental knowledge superior to that of many adults. For this reason, they tend to feel self-sufficient and distant from their parents, especially when the latter have a complex about these digital natives. Parents must maintain authority. An example: "Look, Pepito, either you stop protesting and eat your lentils or I'll record it and post it on YouTube".
Children addicted to the Internet often lose their sense of time. For example, if the child is told at noon to come to lunch, his response usually follows the internet time equivalence chart: "I'm coming" (30 minutes); "let me send a whatsapp" (45 minutes); "I'm just checking email" (50 minutes); "I'll come as soon as I can" (it gets dark).
Childhood is the stage of "being a child," and not that of "not yet being an adult." We are witnessing the return of an old myth that seemed to have been overcome: that of the child as a miniature (or scale) adult. The fact that the child has a personality of its own, different from that of the adult, is once again being ignored. It is also forgotten that the essence of childhood is innocence. Today's children fill their free time with extracurricular activities, so they hardly play. Lack of time and the consumerism of the Internet prevent them from doing so. Games used to be played live: "Dad, I'm playing tag races at place with my friends." Now, on the other hand, games are virtual: "Dad, I'm playing tag on Nintendo".
The traditional idea of childhood as the age of innocence is disappearing, mainly due to the extensive and uncontrolled information that reaches the child with their mobile or tablet connected to the internet. Who are the children and adolescents at highest risk of addiction to ICTs? They are those who are more insecure, lack affection and do not know how to bounce back in the face of difficulties. And so they will surrender submissively to virtual reality.
The true function of technique is to free man from certain material activities that bind him, in order to facilitate his spiritual development ; it is to put his hand on things in order to possess them by the spirit. For Gustave Thibon, "man needs action, but he must make it compatible with contemplation if he wants harmony in his life. He must see to it that action does not reach that interior exhaustion in which man, dispossessed of what he is, becomes the slave of what he does".