In a world where hoaxes and false news They are disseminated daily on the Internet, teaching young people to question if an information is true It is a fundamental challenge for society. But for the moment, teachers are losing the battle. Only 22.5% of Spanish adolescents aged 14 to 16 say they have received training on the development of critical thinking to value information on the Internet, according to a study presented Tuesday in Madrid by the Foundation for Help Against Drug Addiction (FAD). , Google and BBVA.
The results of the investigation ICT and its influence on the socialization of adolescents 1,624 computer interviews were conducted with young Spaniards aged 14 to 16 in educational centers, four focus groups and eight individual interviews. About 90% of adolescents have 2 to 5 personal digital devices and 83.6% recognize a very common use of mobile. Young people use their smartphones, computers and tablets for various activities on the network. For example, listening to music (75.6%), searching for information (41.6%), browsing (48.3%) and relating to other people or playing video games online (37.6%).
The adolescents are self-taught and claim to have a broad management of digital competences. 83% indicate that they have much or much more skill than their parents and 59.8%, than their teachers. The study, which has been carried out within the framework of Connected project, reveals that in the educational centers, adolescents are mostly taught digital skills related to text editing. While 76.7% of students say they have received training on the creation of presentations in programs such as Prezi or Power Point, only 30.5% have learned how to protect their personal data on the Internet and less than 25% have learned to look at the screen with critical thinking.
"Concerted and private schools are working a little more in this last area, but the public system is not working enough," says Eulalia Alemany, technical director of the FAD. Adrián Fornas, a 15-year-old student who is in the 4th year of ESO at the Juan de la Cierva High School in Madrid, states that he has not received training on fake news or social networks: "Instead of talking about that, in ICT they teach us a lot about the components of a computer or the types of software"
The FAD, Google and BBVA intend to launch soon an observatory of technology for adolescents, as announced this Tuesday the general director of the organization, Beatriz Martín. The organization will have professionals from the field of technology and sociologists, who will be responsible for surveying children and researching different topics. "The observatory does not intend to monitor the uses and number of devices of minors. What is wanted is to deepen the perceptions of adolescents, "says Eulalia Alemany, technical director of the FAD. The final objective is that the data from the observatory be useful to guide public policies on education.
On the other hand, his partner Manuela Umbría, of the same age, has learned something about it in Ethical Values, an optional subject that not all students attend. "There is fake news all over. When you see research that says a food is carcinogenic or good for your health, you have to see who has funded that project, "he says. To detect false news, she browses the Internet, visits several different websites and looks for who supports those projects.
For the Minister of Education, Isabel Celáa, It is important to "promote education in values to make good use of the infinite possibilities of the Internet and social networks": "It is the way to avoid problems of attention, Internet addictions, misinformation, self-esteem and reputation on-line and even health consequences ". In the same vein, Alemany has stated that he holds that the development of critical thinking is fundamental in a society. "The fake news not only affect adolescents. Many times critical thinking is not happening even in adults. How can we pretend that it occurs in adolescents? It's hypocrisy on our part, "he says.
Little support from teachers
The lack of training is compounded by the fact that adolescents perceive scarce support from their teachers and parents in general in their Internet activities. "Adolescents face this digital complexity with little support from parents and teachers. We consider them to be digital natives and they are born with all the necessary skills, but they encounter a lot of difficult situations and usually go to their friends instead of parents and teachers ", said the general director of the FAD, Beatriz Martín.
Umbria believes that parents and teachers should build trust with minors instead of monitoring their social networks. "So if that guy has a problem in his social network, someone makes a bad comment and he feels bad or they eliminate the account, he can have the confidence to tell an adult. That is, they are not on top, but the kid resorts to them. "
Nine out of 10 adolescents claim to have their own profile on social networks. They use their accounts primarily to feel integrated into the group. They prefer Instagram to post and be seen and YouTube to consume content, but they also use Twitter to follow their idols and Facebook as a platform for games and keep friendships far away. The WhasApp instant messaging service is useful for daily contact with friends and family.
The 15-year-old also considers that more productive talks should be given: "For example, we already know that there are cyberbullying and that is very dangerous, but they do not give us solutions or contacts that we can access ". There is no doubt in his mind that communication between young people and adults is essential to tackle the problem. This is what Alemany also affirms: "It is important to talk with the minors about privacy and privacy. They are concepts that have changed socially. The intimacy that they have is different from what I have as an adult. They have their codes and we have to know them. "