Eva, who is 22 years old and speaks with a lot of self-confidence, begins by explaining that her relationship with social networks she's pretty good, she barely had a problem when she was a teenager. Like someone who does not want the thing, counts and ensures that he has received "Like a thousand pictures of penises", especially on Twitter and Instagram, which he uses the most. "One wrote my user's name on my penis and sent me photos: 'Look what I do for you," he explains, telling him. To Rocío, another girl of 21, they have repeated to her like 20 times perfect strangers this phrase in networks: "Send pictures naked". They are friends of friends with whom you exchange a conversation "Random" [convencional] in networks (what do you do, where are you from, …) and the second time they write you claim the images and try to justify that "they are a bit drunk" or that "they take a lot without sex," she says.
Their experiences illustrate a part of the complex relationship and effects that digitization has among young people between the ages of 16 and 24. In the virtual world, as in the real world, gender differences and sexist attacks are perpetuated, according to the report Gender equality and youth: opportunities and risks of digitalization, prepared by the European Institute for Gender Equality (EIGE, by its abbreviations in English and dependent of the European Commission) with unified data of the UE and groups of work with a hundred of young people in 10 countries, among them Spain.
The positive part is that young people participate massively -More than 85% of boys and girls between the ages of 15 and 24 use the Internet assiduously- and one in three reads news online. They create more of their own content, according to the report presented this week to a group of European journalists in Vienna, among which EL PAÍS was invited.
"One wrote my username on the penis and sent me pictures: 'Look what I do for you."
Eve, 22 years
Spanish girls receive four times more attacks than boys when they express themselves on the networks. The difference is 6.8 compared to 1.7% and is significantly higher than what happens on average in the EU, with 9% and 6%, respectively. Most attacks refer to the physical aspect or include sexual content. They suffer an aesthetic pressure that hinders their participation in public and political life, according to the work. More than half of the girls and 42% of the boys question their participation after being attacked. They leave this platform more easily in which they insult them, but which has also been fundamental in articulating mobilizations such as Me Too.
Young people are accustomed to communicate through networks when they fall in love ("romance is a great reason for online communication", highlights the work) and live naturally the exchange of images or sexual content, which is known in the slang as sexting [amergeroftheterms[unafusióndelostérminossex and texting, texting].
"You have a relationship with a boy and he invites you to do 'sexting'. If you say no, it leaves you. And you feel the pressure to accept "
Spanish girl, 17 years
Marieta, 24, did it once: "I only sent sexy photos when I was younger to my boyfriend then," explains this other young woman, active on Facebook and Instagram and very cautious with the photos she uploads.
The risk of your intimate images end up shared and damaging them for life is real. It happened to a minor of 17 years whose case collects a sentence of last March. The girl, born in 2000, "maintained a romantic relationship for a few weeks" with another child "to whom she voluntarily sent a video through the WhatsApp application, which she recorded herself and where she was seen masturbating," according to the ruling of a court juvenile. After breaking their relationship, he sent the recording by WhatsApp to several acquaintances and spread among high school students. He was sentenced to 40 hours of benefits for the benefit of the community, to not approach less than 50 meters from her for three months and to compensate her with 300 euros.
The boys do not escape the pressures either. In the debates with the hundred of European lads, the experts of the EU verified that other stereotypes that exist in the street are also perpetuated in the networks: the obligation to be a macho. They are also "exposed to toxic masculinity: they make fun of them if they are not men enough." Some are pressured by colleagues to ask for sexy photos of their partners, which may end later in the common chat. "Yeah sure. In the group of friends of my boyfriend passed photos of a girl who had just been and without her knowing it, "admits Eva, the girl of 22 years with which this report starts.
– Have you already asked him to send you a nude photo?
-How? Why should I do something like that?
– All the boys in the class have pictures of their naked girlfriends. And sometimes they share them with the group.
Conversation of two boys (EIGE report)
"They think it works like this"
Louise Horvath is a social researcher at the Austrian Institute of Applied Telecommunications (ÖIAT), which has given more than 2,000 workshops for children and adolescents about the use of networks. Explains that one of the risks is that children do not consider the attacks that live on the Internet as something bad: "Justify that is the way the Internet works and that is very dangerous." He recommends giving more tools and notions to young people to navigate: "They must learn that what happens to them is neither their fault nor is it normal. And that they have rights. "
"I only sent sexy photos once, he was my boyfriend and we had confidence. The friends who sent photos, ended up in groups of class chats ".
Marieta, 24 years
The young people who have spoken with this newspaper, all in their twenties, explain that now their relationship with the Internet is "safer" than years ago. They think more about uploading photos or sharing personal messages, better protect their keys and leave no trace of the specific place where they are. They learned it by themselves, after enduring hundreds of sexual requests and a stronger pressure for being women.