The impact of information and communication technologies (ICT) in our society involves a transformation of the rites and patterns of communication and social interaction. However, the possibilities and advantages that they sometimes present also become risks and challenges that we must face, paying special attention when they can somehow affect children and young people.
According to the recent study “ICT and its influence on the socialization of adolescents”, published in January 2019 by Google, FAD and BBVA, 89% of the adolescents surveyed between 14 and 16 years old have a mobile phone, 76 % of a laptop and 69% of a tablet.
Consequently, it is evident that young people are not only in indirect contact with the technology that surrounds our lives, but they are also one of the main actors and promoters of its use and impact.
ICTs have managed to become educational instruments, capable of improving the educational quality of students and, at the same time, revolutionizing the way of obtaining, managing and interpreting knowledge and information. However, it is no less true that the role of new technologies also poses a potential risk of addictive behavior. In this sense, there is a broad consensus in the scientific and professional community about considering that certain pathologies related to the use of technology have important analogies with substance addictions, similar even to those observed in pathological gambling.
Addiction, access to inappropriate content, harassment or loss of privacy lead to a series of harmful effects of the use of ICT of which we must be aware and be prepared. Here are three examples:
- Cyberbulling – cyberbullying – virtual harassment through personal attacks, disclosure of confidential or false information taking refuge in the anonymity of the aggressor. Considering the damage inflicted repeatedly, it may constitute a criminal offense.
- Sexting – acronym for the words “sex” and “text” sending unsolicited messages, photos or videos of erotic content.
- Grooming – sexual harassment of minors by adults over the Internet. The adult tries to create an emotional connection in order to be able to sexually abuse the child, introduce him into child prostitution or make him the object of pornographic material.
All of them are increasingly present terms in the fight and campaigns against technological threats .
It seems indisputable that ICTs have become an indispensable element in our lives, also in children and young people, groups most vulnerable to its impact. Children and young people increasingly come into contact with new technologies at a younger age, therefore, it is essential to promote good habits in the use of ICT from all areas of society, especially education, and thus contribute to prevention of all associated risk behaviors.