How to use ICTs as a family and without risk

The Junta de Andalucía and the University of Almería present the Guide to good practices for the intelligent, optimal and healthy use of new technologies in the familya basic tool for the good use of ICTs supported by research carried out by the University of Almería with COVID in the background and in which 60,000 families from the autonomous community participate.

Institutional collaboration has once again been key to providing society with the necessary knowledge to face a new reality with which it lives on a day-to-day basis. This is the case of the new ‘Guide to good practices for the intelligent, optimal and healthy use of new technologies in the family’, presented by the Junta de Andalucía at the University of Almería, the same campus where it has been scientifically supported. its content.

In this sense, it has been prepared based on the results of a study carried out by researchers Alma D. Martínez de Salazar, a specialist in Clinical Psychology and also a member of the Mental Health Clinical Management Unit of the Torrecárdenas de Almería University Hospital, the Professor Inmaculada Gómez and Juan Miguel Flujas, both from the UAL Health Research Center.

The rector Carmelo Rodríguez opened the event, which ended with the official presentation of the guide by Rocío Ruiz, Minister of Equality, Social Policies and Conciliation of the Junta de Andalucía, after interventions by Antonia Rubio, General Director of Children, and Martínez de Salazar herself, who has framed it in a detailed presentation of this ‘Study on family reconciliation and parental education regarding the use of new technologies in childhood and adolescence: analysis of changes as a result of the pandemic by COVID-19’.

About it, Carmelo Rodríguez has been sure that “it will be very useful to situate ourselves in this new era that we are facing, since it allows us to have a diagnosis supported by scientific data and, therefore, real and reliable of this process of innovation and change in which we are immersed”. Along the same lines, he added that “it is going to become essential work material for assessing the needs that society is going to demand of us.” This has been due, and thus has been valued, to “excellent coordination between the Ministry and the UAL”.

The rector has insisted that this work “acquires great importance and significance in these times”, by addressing “from multiple perspectives the trends and profound transformations that are taking place in Andalusian homes”.

In his opinion, “living with screens has become almost mandatory and it is evident that it already exceeds the mere function of informing and communicating, and even working and educating; today they are the space in which minors are forging their identity, (…) and hence the relevance of the study that has been carried out, because it investigates this new digital ecosystem”. He has warned that “we are” at a peak of technological dependency and addiction, which requires decisive responses and the adoption of coordinated measures at the political, economic, social and educational level, “so it is time to “assume our co-responsibility in this matter and continue nourishing ourselves with knowledge and mutual experience, from a transversal perspective”.

Rocío Ruiz has expressed her gratitude to the researchers for their “magnificent study” and has immediately specified, verbatim, that “we are responding to a need in society, addressing a fundamental problem, which is health.” The counselor has placed having “scientific evidence to plan public policies that really have an impact” as the key.

Concerned in childhood and adolescence, “with a focus on utility and responsibility”, she has valued the consensus when it comes to moving forward with the new law in July, which contemplates a new reality, “a new way of relating to the world, the digital, which must be faced head-on with all its advantages, disadvantages and risks, in the face of ignorance”.

The study “gives a fundamental key, that this parental control factor, through training, will prevent risks”, since “although there is not an alarming situation in light of the investigation, there is a risk, very few steps from that can get out of hand.” The reality is that “only 23% of fathers and mothers exercise limits and control on social networks.”

The counselor has warned about the “multiplier effect” that resides in the digital media regarding school, sexual and other types of bullying, appealing to the responsibility of “working in coordination so that extreme situations do not occur”, especially in childhood and adolescence : “You have to protect minors and this law is pioneering, which establishes rights, such as that of growing up as a family, established for the first time, and that of digital competence, an absolutely novel approach counting on children, with what they feel and need.”

This increases the value of the guide “to work with it in schools and in families, with the role of guidance first and also control later, something that adolescents ask for because they are not capable of applying it.” That is the perspective from which this tool has been developed, which will serve to face the risks, addictions and dangers of the digital world from prevention, education and regulation, three aspects not previously considered”.

For her part, Antonia Rubio has valued the collaboration of the University of Almería “from the very beginning of this project”, and has underlined the balance between the need for digital competence and protection against addictions.

The Director General of Children of the Junta de Andalucía has insisted that it was necessary to rely on the evidence “before and after the pandemic” and has praised the research team, whose performance has served the ultimate goal, “to be able to support families Andalusians in the protection against technological addictions and in the responsible use of technologies”, knowing that the type of relationship changes through social networks: “It was a matter of concern and that is why this study was proposed, adapted to the social reality of Andalusia and aimed at giving quality support to Andalusian families”.

60,000 of these families have participated in it through the PASEN platform, with valid responses from 56,000 of them, 10% of those enrolled in the region.

The data obtained, according to Alma D. Martínez de Salazar, “have tried to answer the questions of parents in the face of the greater demand for technology from their children”, arising in the midst of the pandemic and confinement, what the research team saw as “an opportunity”.

As basic conclusions, “the confinement has produced an increase in the use of technologies, not only in terms of the hours dedicated to them, both in adults and in children and adolescents, but also in terms of the age of beginning of its use, the number of children who often use technologies to spend free time and leisure has doubled, parents consider to a large extent that there is an increase in the totally inappropriate use that their children make of mobile phones and video consoles , three months after the confinement, the changes in the habits of use of the new technologies do not seem to be accompanied by a significant negative impact on the mental health of children.

With regard to ICT addiction, the scores are above the average, except for instant messaging applications, probably because they have been a facilitator for social relationships during confinement, with differences in the use of communication technologies. according to the evolutionary stage of children and adolescents”.

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