The dark side of mobiles and when to give it to young people

How valuable it is to get bored and waste time, those moments in which nothing is simply done. The loss of time, being able to get bored, is in danger of extinction due, in part, to all the external and artificial stimuli within our reach. The best ideas arise from that free time, thanks to being able to dedicate yourself to thinking for a while.

Many children today (also parents, grandparents…) live glued to a screen; they eat while looking at the mobile and they are abstracted from reality to such an extent that it becomes frightening when a possible futuristic scenario is projected within the imaginary.

Two years ago, with the aim of teaching young people the correct use of technology and postponing the delivery of smartphones, a group of parents from the Salbatore Mitxelena school in Zarautz created the initiative Guk Aukera, Guk Hamasei (We choose, we sixteen). It arises as a result of observing the link between minors and the new smartphones and the concern about the use and content of social networks. Little by little, they realized that these habits were going to be a problem in the short and long term. They created a decalogue with ten rules, such as muting notifications, knowing that the mobile belongs to the parents…

“I have been a father for 40 years. I had many friends who were parents before me and when we all met to eat in society or do other kinds of things with the children, I noticed how they always had a fight with them because they did not leave their mobiles. These are the words of Asier Urzelai, one of the parents who participates in the initiative.

“I always asked them the same question: Did you want to buy the mobile? They told me no. Then she asked again: And why did you buy it? Everyone gave me a similar answer: Because they all have it, because it’s not the last one, so they don’t get left out… In the end you realize that it’s because of social pressure”, explains Urzelai with concern.

Miren Ros, family educator and one of the founders of the initiative, also participates in a project called Bidelagun ( where, according to their website, above all studies, motherhood and experiences and talks with other parents have been the most important reasons to pull it off.

“At first, the parents who had already bought a mobile for their son when he was eleven or twelve years old said that the one who came after him had to be given it at the same age. The discourse is changing, at least that’s what I’m hearing in other centers. They don’t want to repeat the same mistake twice. That will be for a reason, ”says Ros hopefully.

They are aware of the difficulty that this issue entails, until recently a trivial matter and that now comes to light with the continuous appearance of episodes that reflect the dependency that social networks or video games can generate. Young people do not yet fully understand what relationships are; and the impact of mobile phones and social networks on interpersonal relationships is notorious. That is, “if I tell Asier in person that I didn’t like something he said to me, he sees my face and I see his, he listens to my tone and I listen to his,” says Ros. To this Urzelai adds that “even among adults it also happens to us. How many messages will we have misunderstood and we will have gotten angry over bullshit?

Courage emerges behind the screen and things are said that would not be said to the face. “My son once made a congratulatory video for a friend on his birthday. We saw him on the street, I told him to congratulate him and he said no, he had already congratulated him”, says Urzelai with a tone of disbelief.

It is vital to work hard on this matter, teaching children what the Internet is, what is sold on social networks and their own dynamics… “Many parents are lazy or are simply unaware of what the use of social networks can generate in the young people, but that is not an excuse to stop looking at what the children see. They tend to get a little scared when you tell them that the son may be consuming pornography from her phone. We want to create awareness and there are many topics to start with”, both comment.

Children are a reflection of what parents do and see on the Internet. It is urgent to reflect on the negative effects that excessive consumption of technologies can produce, and to offer the keys to responsible use.

The dark side of mobiles and when to give it to young people