TRIC and adolescence: risks and challenges

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  • 90% of teenagers connect to the internet every day.
    90% of teenagers connect to the internet every day. . Source: Pixabay.

A report by UNICEF states that one in three adolescents use technologies in a problematic way.

Technologies for relationships, information and communication (TRIC) are part of our daily lives, especially for adolescents. They make friendships, gain emotional wellbeing, leisure, support and understanding, but these technologies come with risks such as cyber-bullying, which is experienced by two in ten.

It is estimated that one in three adolescents make a problematic use of these technologies, according to a report by UNICEF where 50,000 adolescents aged between 11 and 18 from State schools were asked to fill in a survey.

This problematic use has been detected more so in the case of girls than boys, and even if no causal relation has been determined with the impact it may have on mental health, in these cases, depression rates were three times higher.

Other risks that come from these technologies are grooming – online pederasty (more than 20% have physically met with someone they met on the Internet), and sexting which, even if it may not be a risk per se, does become a risk when obtained without consent or under pressure, as experienced by 11%, especially girls.

The report highlights the lack of supervision by families: only 30% have rules and 13% limits the contents their adolescent children can access.

The report also mentions videogames and gambling as especially problematic. One the one hand, six in ten adolescents play videogames at least once a week and almost 22% believe they could become professional gamers. The specific GASA test estimates that around 3.1% of Spanish adolescents show signs of a possible addiction to videogames, i.e. almost 60,000 people. And among these cases, depression rates are three times higher.

On another note, 70,000 adolescents have, at some stage, gambled online, mostly boys, and this multiplies the risk of developing compulsive gambling and doubles the depression rates.

Beyond the risks, the report emphasizes the normalisation of violence in class and the invisibilisation of bullying and cyber-bullying. Out of every ten adolescents who experience bullying, only one recognises this and it usually takes months or years to break the silence.

Bullying and cyber-bullying are not two separate things, the report says, as almost 73% of adolescents who experience bullying also experience cyber-bullying, mostly from classmates. It is the responsibility of all to end a form of violence that is self-reinforcing: more than half of those suffering from bullying are also bullies themselves.

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