Q&A  | 

Limiting screen time, a mistake? With Ángel Turbi

"Setting limits on screen time is a mistake [...] trying to teach our childre to find the balance between the virtual and physical life is a better way.".

Tags: 'Confinamiento' 'Digital technology' 'Education Technology' 'Pandemia' 'Recursos educativos' 'Sociología' 'Tecnología para la Educación' 'Tecnologías de la educación'

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Angel Turbi is a clinical psychologist specialised in technological addictions in teenagers.

He has spearheaded different prevention and recovery programs in the field and has worked as a forensic psychologist for different administrations.

He is also a professor at the Catholic University of Valencia and a researcher at the University of Granada.

Hyperconnectivity is a defining feature of our time, but can it be harmful and why?

The concept of digital immigrants vs. digital natives is a reality that helps us understand the differences of the impact on technology by generation.

Digital natives and in particular generation Z (mid 1990s to mid 2000s) were born with the current technology, but no one taught them how to make a responsible use of it. 

Hence, they are more likely to develope the pathologies associated with hyperconnectivity and screen over use: a both addictions and cyber violence.

As a conclusion, the lack of education in the responsible use of technology contributes to bad tecnological habits.

How has hyperconnectivity affected minors ?

Due to moment in the development of their personality they find themselves in, for teenagers as well as grown up children technologies cover needs such as integration/socialization and sometimes the urge to be in the limelight. All this makes them more vulnerable.

Adults generate other pathologies with technologies that, in general, go  more easily unnoticed.

What kind of content fosters worst habits?

In general, the biggest problem we are currently encountering is addiction to sports betting and other games of luck, what I call the “new compulsive gambling”, a reality that we have been late to address in terms of prevention.

As for minors, it’s probably cyber addictions. Mainly cybergaming, cybercommunication and cybersex, and let’s not forget addiction to series!

 

What pathologies can minors develop as a result of hyperconnectivity?

Minors are more vulnerable to develop gaming (addiction to video games) and gambling (pathological gambling), both concepts already recognized by the World Health Organization (WHO) as mental disorders.

There are other effects of bad tech habits, such as, e.g., the need for exposure in social media and the need for constant connectivity, all of which can lead to neglecting academic or even physical social life and replacing their social relations with virtual reality.

 

How can children develop healthy tech and internet habits?

It can definitely be positive. Technologies are here to stay, so we must educate in using them in a resposible way.

We need to develop adequate and innovative prevention strategies for the new present reality.

As a premise, we must change the adult perspective: we are currently moving between physical and virtual reality, but both realities are one for today’s teenager. It is with this in mind that we can relate to the adolescent, instilling a balance between both worlds. 

It is a balance between physical and virtual life consisting of tending to and encouraging responsibilities such as school and family, sports –all of which helps teenagers and children grow up in a healthy way– but also adding in the mix the technological reality.

Many mothers and fathers wonder the not so goood internet and tech habits children have developed during the lockdown are here to stay. How can we reverse that?

A good balance of daily activities is probably a good way to do it.

Trying to set limits on screen time, which has been the main approach so far, is a mistake because we now know it does not work. From my professional experience the “3-6-9-12” approach is a good one [system of the French psychiatrist Serge Tisseron consisting of giving gradually access to different technologies as the kid grows] which considers the psychology of child and adolescent development.

Gambling is different, of course. We must regulate online gambling and, at the same time, prevent such behaviors.

Are we reacting in and addecuate time and manner to this problem?

Technological addictions and hyperconnectivity are real problems of today. We are late on trying to prevent the associated risks, which is why it is so important that we raise awareness.

It is not only about techno-addiction, but also about cyber-violence such as cyberbullying and other phenomena in our daily life: sexting, grooming, sextorsion….

We cannot ignore new influences like these and the way they determine the way our adolescents relate with each other. I’m talking about technopornography and the related pharmacopornography, chem-sex or slam parties.