In Spain there are more children with a mobile phone than without it. Technologies now cover all areas of daily life, in which the Internet has become a fundamental tool. However, while digitization has brought infinite benefits, it also carries a number of risks . For this reason, ‘digital literacy’ is an increasingly widespread concept and in which the Ministry of Education is putting the accent in all its initiatives.

The challenge is evident: to make a healthy, responsible and conscious use of what is received and transmitted over the network. Taking into account that not even the adult population has yet been able to tackle this problem, the urgency of addressing the issue from the root, from childhood , with digital education has been valued .

“One out of every three cases attended to last year had a technology component involved,” explains Benjamin Ballesteros, director of programs at the ANAR Foundation , to 20minutos . “Technology already affects practically all the problems that children and adolescents have,” adds the member of the NGO dedicated to the defense of minors at risk.

The dangers involved in the use of technologies are numerous. From accessing inappropriate and “highly damaging” content – such as content linked to suicidal actions or self-harm, eating disorders, or pornography – to ‘ grooming ‘ problems (an adult posing as a minor in order to abuse them), ‘ sexting ‘, ‘ cyberbullying ‘ or identity theft and gender violence . “And, another crucial risk is addiction to these devices, which affects both minors and adults,” warns the expert.

“The mobile phone is a gateway to information in general, but also to content that can be detrimental to its development”
The issue has also been gaining relevance with the advance of digitization that, according to Ballesteros, became completely universal with the pandemic , when access to any digital device and, ultimately, the Internet, became “absolutely necessary”. to teach classes and maintain contact with their environment.

70% of children between 10 and 15 years old have a mobile
According to the National Institute of Statistics ( INE ) , seven out of ten children between the ages of 10 and 15 have their own mobile phone, which means that 70% of children of that age are vulnerable to any of the Internet threats.

Ballesteros believes that a mobile phone with Internet access should not be given at such a young age. “From the foundation we think that you have to give them the mobile phone when they are mature enough to understand what this tool is that we are putting in their hands,” he asserts.

And, according to the NGO member, “the mobile phone is a gateway to information in general, but also to content that can be detrimental to its development.” From ANAR they have addressed this matter with special incidence and drawn up a “contract” for fathers, mothers and their children when it comes to providing them with a new device. It establishes a series of rules, guidelines, hours of use and, ultimately, information on certain content so that they are aware “of the difficulties that you may encounter”.

“The work of the parents is also essential. Many times we want to enforce things to the children that the parents themselves do not apply , such as not being with the mobile all day. It is important that we realize the example that we are giving to our sons and daughters, “says Ballesteros.

Digital literacy in all educational stages
The Government, in fact, already emphasizes this in all the educational measures that it is promoting. In the LOMLOE, also called the Celaá Law , the need to take into account the “digital change” that “necessarily” affects educational activity is stressed. “The digital world is a new habitat in which childhood and youth live more and more: in it they learn, interact, consume, enjoy free time,” reads the norm.

Students of the San Isidoro Institute of Seville.
Precisely in the curricula of all educational stages they mark digital literacy as an objective to promote the development of “critical sense” and “basic technological competences” that allow an “ethical reflection” on their operation and use.

In Infant , for example -and according to the minimum teachings that will be applied in the next courses-, the process begins by introducing the first steps of digital literacy. In Primary , students begin to “learn to manage their digital identity and safeguard it”.

Throughout the entire Compulsory Secondary Education ( ESO ) , two subjects are already introduced: ‘Technology and Digitization’, which establishes knowledge in digital competence; and ‘Digitization’, in which issues are discussed to be able to exercise “a digital and committed citizenship”, thus completing this training process, sources from the Ministry of Education highlight 20 minutes away .

Likewise, as indicated by the same sources, various network security initiatives are being promoted through the National Institute of Educational Technologies and Teacher Training (INTEF) and in collaboration with the National Cybersecurity Institute (INCIBE).

“This education is very important. In the end, information is the way to generate criteria. Although it is not only necessary to train the minors, but also the teachers and the parents ,” says Benjamin Ballesteros.

The director of programs of the ANAR Foundation emphasizes that digital literacy will be “key” to improve the situation. “But I also believe that it is a totally new terrain . As we progress and see the difficulties that are arising, we are implementing measures to try to solve them. Now we are beginning to observe the first difficulties,” he concludes.

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