One of the trends generated by the pandemic of the COVID-19 It has been the considerable increase in the use of the Internet. Accessing the Internet has brought us many benefits, such as the development of tele-education to promote the learning of children and adolescents in a pandemic, but an incorrect use of this platform could generate an addiction in children and adolescents.
Although exposure to the Internet by itself does not generate addiction, points out Vanessa Zambrano, psychologist and head of workshops in Fundación MAPFRE’s Controla Tu Red – Peru program. Likewise, it details that “when it comes to addictive behaviors, they are linked to emotional issues and situations that are not properly managed.”
The risk behaviors assumed by adolescents when using the Internet are the focus of the study ‘Patterns of use and abuse of ICT among adolescents in Lima and Arequipa – Perception of risks’, carried out by Fundación MAPFRE with the participation of nearly 1,000 adolescents and the support of the Public Opinion Institute of the Catholic University.
The results of the sample carried out in 2019 indicate that 80% of those surveyed recognize that the Internet is dangerous for someone their age; However, when analyzing their usage patterns, this recognition does not seem to matter: 72% do not block a stranger when they contact them on their networks. Furthermore, 20% do not know half of their contacts.
A previous study conducted in 2016 focused on the emotional red flags that young people develop when they are addicted to the Internet. Some of them are the following:
- Postponement of vital needs: 33% tend to postpone their sleep because they are connected instead of resting. 7% have stopped eating due to being online.
- Preference for isolation: Being alone, feeling lonely, neglecting personal relationships, is a sign of possible depression. Adolescents who show a higher risk of Internet addiction show a preference for being alone in a greater proportion than those who do not show red flags.
- Lost of control: They begin to show withdrawal symptoms and develop tolerance: 20% say they cannot be disconnected; 24% think it should be controlled and cannot; 7% admit that they need to be connected more and more time to feel the emotion of before.
- Anxiety: 16% frequently feel anxious when unable to connect. 15% say that if they lost their cell phone, they would do anything to get it back.
Faced with this situation, it is essential that parents pay attention to their children in terms of interaction and use of the Internet and social networks, in addition to noticing if there is a development of new behaviors. It is important to inform yourself about the correct use of ICTs and not simply reject them.
Fundación MAPFRE recommends listening to the minor without judging him, knowing his tastes on the internet and understanding him, so that they can share spaces together where they can take advantage of educating without prohibiting and advising without depriving them of privacy.
Without proper supervision and improper use of the internet, minors could be exposed to dangers such as cyberbullying and cyberbullying from acquaintances and strangers. To help parents and teachers in the process of guiding minors towards a healthy use of the networks and the internet, Fundación MAPFRE makes guidance and educational materials available to society at the following link, so that any reader can access them for free.