How do the Zeta and Alpha generations understand security in technology?
Each parent generation She has had to deal with the time her children spent on certain activities. For years, that enemy is the screens. Computers, video game consoles, tablets, smartphones… We also use screens, but we are adults. It is assumed that we should be able to balance our schedule daily. In the case of minors, classified as generation zeta and generation alpha, we parents and guardians are responsible for this task until they reach adulthood. And since the screens are usually connected to the Internet, we must ensure their technological security.
Screens and constant internet access. A combination that many parents are suspicious of and that should put everyone on their guard. Any statistics that we consult confirm that today’s young people spend their time with social networks, instant messaging applications and/or video platforms such as YouTube, TikTok or Twitch. And also with online games. The call Zeta generation (born between 1995 and 2010) has a 97% internet penetration. And the alpha generation (born after 2010) are already behind them. To the point that many of them have interacted with screens from their first years of life. The screen as a substitute for the rattle.
So whether we like it or not, youth and screens It is something so common that it is impossible not to pay attention to it. From the beginning. Deciding when to buy our son his first screen or how his relationship with screens is going to be today is a decision as important or more important than deciding which educational center to send him to, what type of clothes to buy him or what food to give him. And all these cases have something in common. They must be processes over time that combine our decisions with education in that area, so that in the future they make decisions for themselves. And if we talk about screens, it is inevitable to bring up the subject of technological security or online security.
Time and exposure in the digital world
Qustodio’s latest annual report makes it clear that this is not a passing fad, it is an established phenomenon. The minors between 4 and 18 years old from Spain, the States and the United Kingdom, about four hours pass in front of screens outside of school hours. Daily. It may seem like a lot. At the time, the problem was television. Today we are talking about video game consoles, computers and, especially, smartphones.
And in what that time is shared in front of screens? Social networks, instant messaging, online video platforms and video games. social networks like TikTok (80 minutes a day in Spain) or Instagram (54 minutes a day in Spain). Instant messaging or online communications such as Zoom (51 minutes a day) or WhatsApp (41 minutes a day), video platforms like Prime Video (47 minutes daily), YouTube,Netflix Y Disney+ (41 minutes daily) or video games like Minecraft (43 minutes daily), brawl stars (30 minutes daily) or clash royale (29 minutes daily).
Although these data may vary and other names appear in the list of favorite video games, the fact is that the so called Alpha generation and Zeta generation spend time be connected to the Internet. They are the generations that they have had it easier to access to technology and the network of networks. Not for nothing, in Spain, 99% of households have at least one smartphone, one computer (81.4%), one smart TV (60.7%) and/or one tablet (58.4%).
And that time is spent with activities that facilitate online exhibition. That is, you can see photos, videos and comments from others, but it is inevitable that minors post that personal content on social networks or share it via instant messaging. On the other hand, through platforms such as TikTok, Youtube or Twitch they contact influencers who have an influenceespecially at certain ages. Whether that influence is positive or negative will depend on the type of content offered by that tiktoker, youtuber or streamer. And thirdly, in the worst cases there can be situations of cyberbullying, online scams or online blackmail in exchange for sexual content.
We’re not doing too bad
Two years ago, Google, BBVA and the Foundation for Help Against Drug Addiction presented a study in which they had interviewed 1,200 young Spaniards between the ages of 15 and 29. Among the questions that were asked, they were asked on social media. And the most common answers could be shared by both parents and children. Come on, both groups think the same. The main answers were of the type “people lie more on the Internet and on social networks than face to face”, “on social networks they deceive you many times” or “on social networks you risk being hurt”. Despite this, one of the most frequent answers was that social networks help to meet people with whom to have personal or emotional relationships.
Young people, be they generation Alpha, generation Zeta or however we want to classify them, are aware of the dangers that the Internet entails if we have inculcated it from a young age. It is becoming more and more frequent that minors’ social network accounts are protected or private. It is clear that accompaniment and pedagogy constant are essential tools so that, when the child handles himself, he can discern between lies and truths, honest or dishonest people. Just like in the physical world. But we must not lower our guard. Minors are more familiar with online exposure, they see it more naturally than previous generations. They take precautions. But they keep exposing themselves. So don’t let your guard down.
Whether we like it or not help them create a secure account on Instagram or TikTok, to cite two examples, it will be something as frequent from now on as teaching them to tie their shoelaces or telling them how to ride a bicycle. As many experts say, if we don’t do it our way, with our rules, others will. In their own way. And there we will have missed a great opportunity of educating our children in technological security, something that they will have to deal with throughout their lives with more and more frequency in the years to come.