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INTERVIEW MARC MASIP - Psychologist expert in addiction to New Technologies

A few months ago the book came into our hands Disconnect written by Marc Masip. In its pages we found data on technology use habits that surprised and worried us in equal measure. It also explains the keys to doing a digital detox that we found very interesting as well as terms that were unknown to us until that moment.

After reading the book we had doubts and concerns and we contacted Marc. Below you can read and listen to the interview we did with him and which he kindly answered.

1. In the book you mention that Spain is the European country with the most adolescent addiction to the Internet (21.3%). What do you think it is due to? To a lack of values, to having few leisure alternatives...?


It is curious that Spain is the country with the most adolescent addiction to the Internet, given that it is one of the countries with the most social life and the most light. We would always think that in places that make life easier outside (the terraces, the taste for the street, the good weather, the garden, the park, the beach...) where it gets dark late, especially in summer, people would grow minus the screens.

It is one of the questions for which I have no answer. I think it doesn't suit Spain to be the country with the most addiction... Looking for arguments, perhaps not empirical ones, some hypotheses would be the gaps in education, in the entire school issue, the lack of good professionals, (that is evidence). .. And then, lack of norms and laws. We are facing a situation in the country where practically anything goes, and nothing happens here, and that is the example we give. There is a lack of state laws that govern the use of technologies; It's something obvious.

2. As you say, 93% of internet access is done through mobile phones. Also that the use usually has a recreational or entertainment purpose mainly (social networks, video games, shopping, watching videos...) Why do you think this is so? Do you think we no longer know how to entertain ourselves without our cell phones? Do you think that the stimulation we find on the mobile phone can be achieved in another way?


Yes, almost everything we do with the mobile phone is something more playful, not so professional, especially us kids.

I think yes, other forms of fun and entertainment are being lost. And that is dangerous because kids today use their cell phones for almost everything. What we would have to do is teach them to use it well, teach them that they can use it, but not at certain times or for certain things. But of course, at that age at which they are having it, they are not yet prepared to know how to use it well. Furthermore, since they have seen their parents constantly using it, it makes them think that it is something necessary, or something very entertaining, or something they want, because their parents have it and they don't.

Forms of leisure and entertainment are being lost and people are stopping living a lot because they are more aware of their cell phones than of their own lives. In the end, the kids, when they are on their cell phones, have many skills, but later when they are in person, empathy, hugs, contact... all of this will have to be worked on much more, because they are going to have many shortcomings and a certain cowardice in them. interpersonal relationships.

3. What advice would you give to parents who are going to buy their child's first cell phone?


I would tell a parent who was going to buy their child their first mobile phone not to do so before the age of 16, otherwise they would be making a mistake. Let him wonder if he is prepared to manage all that bombshell, which is that your son has a mobile phone. Then I would tell you to ask yourself if you think you need it to function in your family life, your academic life, or your social life.

4. Nowadays we observe that the use of new technologies by parents is not always correct. What guidelines would you give to parents to be a good example in the use of social networks?


To adults, to parents who, obviously, must set an example, I would tell them to use common sense a lot. Well, if you are driving the car with your child in front, then that's it. If you are having dinner and you use your cell phone, that's it. It can't be a work thing; The typical thing is to say “it's just work.” I believe that there are times when, the best thing we can offer them is to make good use of it ourselves. At the same time, to these parents, I would say that They will talk a lot about the sexual issue, the toxic issue, the technological issue, with their children. At each age it is necessary to explain a little of everything that is happening and thus prevent misuse.

5. Self-esteem and self-concept establish their foundations in childhood and adolescence. You comment that the inappropriate use of social networks can shake these foundations. How do we know if our child's use of social networks is affecting their self-esteem?


I consider that social networks directly reduce self-esteem, because there is a lot of comparison. Obviously, not in all children and not at the same level, but there is always the risk. That is to say, a girl with anorexia is not the same as a boy who may not even be interested in her. But there is always a risk when we decide that our children can have social networks and they compare themselves with a timeline, normally very powerful, with many things, which for the most part Most of them will not be real or frequent, but they can make a dent in your self-esteem.

6. You talk about a more or less similar pattern in all addicts. For example: low self-esteem, impulsiveness or poor social skills. Do you think that a good form of prevention would be to work on those areas or is it not enough? Why?


It's curious, because more and more we are leaving the patterns and profiles. On social networks we are seeing a profile more of a woman, a girl, between 13 and 15 years old, from 15 to 17, a more self-harming profile, with suicidal risk. The most serious cases, obviously. As kids we are seeing a profile more of 11 to 13, or 19 to 21, with video games, with this social isolation, school failure, lack of motivation, and then we are seeing very early access in pornography at all ages and well, the mobile phone well, obviously, at the ages that parents are giving them, too.

I don't think it's a matter of working so much on self-esteem and emotional management. I think it is a matter of allowing them access when it is appropriate and at the appropriate age and of having previously provided a good education, both to the families and to the children for good use.

7. You point out some terms such as FOMO (fear of being left out or missing something on networks) SEXTING (sharing intimate photos or videos of oneself with another person) GROMING (adult in contact with children for sexual purposes) PISHING (cybercriminals who steal passwords...) Do you think it is good to talk about these terms clearly with our children before giving them access to a cell phone...?


Yes, I think it is important to talk about these terms. Well, FOMO, or phubbing, the fact of being more aware of your cell phone than of someone. Yes, I think it is important to talk to them beforehand so that they learn the risks and thus be able to prevent them and then, as I said before, I think the most important thing is that there are state laws that regulate the use of technologies and their proper use. , in order to ensure that addictive elements or content before the age that we consider appropriate cannot reach minors.

8. When you explain some cases that you have attended, you talk about the importance of asking for help. How do you know when it's time? If it happens within the family, when should parents ask for help?


We always talk about asking for help, it's not that I'm heading home as a psychologist. But the thing is: “I have an addiction to I don't know what..” “It just happens to me…” Well, you will have to ask a professional for help. If I break a leg I go to a traumatologist and ask for help. It seems that when there is a mental problem, we do not want to ask psychologists for help and that is what we should do. If I have an addiction problem, there will have to be a psychiatrist or a psychologist, people who will support me and help me. It's the most normal thing. But socially, it's not as automated; My head hurts, I go to the doctor, I break my knee, I go to trauma, because if I have a problem I have to ask for help.

Be alert as a parent to the following symptoms:

  • Withdrawal syndrome, when cell phone deprivation produces anxiety, aggression, depression or any emotional alteration.

  • Stop doing something to be more aware of the screens.

In short, there must be an impact on social, work or academic and family life.

If you want more information about screens, addictions, adolescent behaviors and much more, we recommend that you read the book DISCONECTA and consult the page desconect@. A team of experts helps adolescents and their families to have a better future emotionally and academically through a personalized methodology.

You can also consult our related articles and guides.

Did you like the interview? We are interested in knowing your opinion, you can leave it in comments.


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