This Is What Parents Do Not Know About Their Children's Digital Activity

This article deals with data and strategies for the correct digital education of the youngest children in the house, in which the parental mediation, the accompaniment or the configuration of closed profiles play a key role.

"Digital natives: we must not confuse digital skills with criteria," says technology expert Juan Luis Garcia Rambla. Or, as his book Susana Lluna and Javier Pedreira "Wicho" title: "Digital natives do not exist". And yes, although our children can handle the iPad with 2 years or manage to set up the Smart TV before us, that does not mean that they can handle the technologies with absolute reasoning assuming the pros and cons and knowing, therefore, to prevent the risks associated with them. 

Therefore, the role of the family in their digital education seems more than obligatory.

But, how is the current technological landscape? According to the study carried out by the FAD, Google and BBVA with students between 14 and 16 years of age, enrolled in the different levels of ESO, in the use of the "technological triad" the smartphone stands out from the rest, with 89.8% presence in homes; in second place is the laptop, with 75.7%; and, finally, the use of the tablet, with almost 70% of mentions in the surveys (68.8%).

The study also shows that the greatest activity that adolescents and young people do is with instant messaging applications, WhatsApp, Telegram or Line: 91% use them to talk or chat or to organize activities with their friends.

At age 15, 98% use the internet

But if in addition to studying what they use, we look at how they do it, we could realize that in many cases we are reaching what we can call "abusive or problematic use," as a report from the University shows. Camilo Jose Cela and the Madrid Health Addiction Institute: "The Internet is habitually used by 98% of adolescents at age 15 and only a third do so in a non-problematic way. The remaining two thirds do so with the awareness that they invest too much time in surfing the net, receiving complaints from their relatives and / or friends, making it difficult for them to reduce that time or to stay someday without connection. "

And, as the WHO predicted in 2018, including video games in the International Classification of Diseases (ICD-11) as a pathological gambling or gambling addiction, the non-responsible use of technologies by minors could increase exponentially.

Given these data, when talking about "minors and screens" we must think, then, what we call parental mediation, by which those responsible for the education of the child have a legal and moral obligation to educate also in the field of new technologies, including it as a section of the general education that we provide to the minor.

This is explained by the lawyer expert in Digital Law, Borja Adsuara, emphasizing the general duty of custody of the minor: to ensure their good physical and mental development.
How to carry out the parental mediation?

The parents or guardians of the minor must accompany him in his digital literacy process, educate him to make responsible and safe use of new technologies and ensure that the risks of ICTs materialize and, if they occur, offer solutions.

But are we parents really ready to educate our children digitally? As the data point out, WhatsApp, Instagram and Youtube are the applications most used by teenagers and young people, and according to a study, the daily usage average is 1.24 hours per day. Fortnite, with its more than 250 million users, has absolutely broken all the statistics of video games.

There is also another series of platforms, more unknown to families, for which children navigate with much less control, such as Tik Tok, Ask, Twitch or This Crush. And, although according to the study The impact of screens in Family life, of, 38.6% of parents feel satisfied with their degree of familiarity with technology, sometimes, reality makes us realize that the knowledge of applications and platforms is not as high as it should be to guide and accompany minors in the use of these.

Above all, because the main concerns of families today, as reflected in the survey, are the overexposure of minors on the Internet (and its consequences) and abusive use.

Chat with strangers

We all know that Fortnite Battle Royale is a game of Epic Games, where mixing features of The Hunger Games and Minecraft, with positive aspects such as learning to work in a team and collaborate intelligently, participants have to be the only survivors on an island in front of a hundred competitors.

There is no blood or violence, but battles are not won with poetry, of course. Now, do we all know that Fortnite has a 12-year PEGI code? That if our children play alone in “squadron” mode they could chat lives with any stranger from around the world? Have they ever sat down to play with their children to see how they play? So they can explain what a battle is like? That is the key.

We know that Tick Tock is an application where you upload videos recorded with background music to make Karaoke, dub movies, tutorials or tricks. We do not allow our younger children to have a public profile and we review the videos they record before they publish them for their friends.

Profile closed, but access to public videos

However, do we know that even if they have a closed profile they can access all the public Tik Tok videos where they can see content not recommended for their age? (Although we could also configure the privacy and layer it), have you downloaded Tik Tok? You’re mobile? Have you navigated through the app? This way they can decide if their daughter or son is old enough or not to start using it.

It is clear that Snapchat is a very fun application where we can take photos with filters, geolocate them and record videos that after being sent they self-destruct in seconds. Many of our children only use it to use their filters. But, are we aware that many teenagers use it to make sexting ?, and that although Snapchat introduced the update to tell us if someone has made a screenshot of the photo or recorded the video, the damage is already done and anyone can use content to blackmail or cyber bullying the child ?, or that many people use the network to sell pornographic content, which can vary from a striptease to videos much more explicit?

The legal age to have social networks

Although the legal age in Spain for minors to have a presence in social networks is 14 years, (some platforms raise it to 16 as is the case of WhatsApp), by consent to the processing of data and to receive advertising content (RGPD), after conducting talks on the Internet and Social Networks to students between 6th grade and 2nd year of ESO in different schools of the Spanish geography, of children under 11 and 12 years old, practically 70% had a smartphone and, of them, many already had profile in networks like Instagram or YouTube, (some with parental control and many others, no).

The accompaniment is key

For all this, the accompaniment of minors during digital learning to teach them the safe use of technologies is essential today, as journalist Maria Zabala points out in her iWomanish blog, and should always be adjusted to the age of the child.

It is not a matter of prohibiting or censuring, because we already know that this strategy is not effective, but to guide and educate them. From the installation of the apps in the mobiles, the opening of the profiles together, the configuration of the privacy, explaining to them what type of content they must upload to the network and what not, how they should take care of their privacy and that of the family, until why they should not interact with strangers.