From sexting to revenge porn, from smartphone addiction to online gambling: these are the issues on which the analysis of Eures Economic and Social Research has focused in collaboration with the Lazio Region and the Ministry of Labor and Social Policies as part of the public notice “Solidarity Communities 2019”. The report was presented on November 30th and what emerges is a serious situation, especially if we start from one of the most striking data: 82% of the very young interviewees are at risk of smartphone addiction.
The survey sample: 1,800 students from 6 Roman schools
The survey involved female students of secondary schools in Rome in the period between November 2020 and March 2021: 108 classes interviewed in 6 schools in the Capitoline area, more than 1,800 adolescents interviewed who produced 1,649 valid questionnaires. In the report, which has since become a book, short testimonies from young people are collected on online gaming experiences, sexting, revenge porn and in general on the experience of mobile phone addiction, for a total of 600 stories collected and 100 selected to be included in the report. Finally, information, training and awareness raising activities were completed on 47 classes and around 900 students.
Sexting e revenge porn
According to the survey, 64.5% of young people practice sexting, i.e. the exchange of messages and images with an erotic background via WhatsApp, Instagram, TikTok or Facebook chats. The problem is that 19.7% say they have sent or exchanged their intimate photos or videos “to satisfy a request that they have not been able to evade”, reads the summary of the report, reaching this value of 30.4% between only girls (against 12.8% of males). This practice is considered “very or fairly” widespread for 36.9% of the sample, with 9.7% in the 14 to 15 age group claiming to have voluntarily posted or shared intimate or sexually explicit images or videos via their smartphone. in the last 3 years. The percentage rises to 14.8% in those attending the three-year period (16-18 years). In 85% of cases, intimate photos or videos (if not depicting sexual acts) were received by others, almost 80% posted or shared them, 67% exchanged them with their partner. And girls do not like this way of communicating at all: 44.1% give a negative evaluation, against 18.1% of males. The involvement of interviewees in revenge porn should not be underestimated, i.e. the revenge of a partner who spreads intimate images or videos of the ex online: 8.1% say they have practiced it or immediately, 8% have found their own images intimate posted on the net against their will.
“Consent for girls is often induced or forced”
“We asked the students to what extent they were involved in the phenomenon – commented Fabio Piacenti, president of Eures and director of the report at Roma Today – and it turned out that most of them sent, received and exchanged images in a consenting way. However, there is a part that this consent has not been explicitly given or in any case it has been induced, forced. We are talking about a manipulation that in some way represents violence. give a negative evaluation to this practice, while for the boys the story is mainly positive “.
The “Generation Z”: up to 8 hours a day with the smartphone in hand
On the other hand, the use of the smartphone occupies most of the daily life of the so-called “generation Z”, that of those born from the end of the nineties to the end of the 2000s, to then become the “Alpha generation”, or those who today have no more than 10-11 years. They received their first smartphone before finishing elementary school, at the latest before starting middle school. And in fact, according to EURES, 68% of very young people already own a mobile phone before this age: 52.8% ask their parents for it, 40.6% receive it as a gift. 50.4% of respondents said they received it between the ages of 10 and 11, 13.8% even before they turned 10.
The average use of the smartphone by the adolescents involved in the survey is 6 hours a day, but for 25.4% it reaches 8 hours. And those who received the device before the age of 10 on average remain glued to the screen for 6.7 hours against the 5.7 of those who instead had to wait to turn 13. It is also noted that 30.3% of young people living in single-parent families and abusing smartphones (8 hours of daily use) are 30.3%, with 34.7% not regularly attending any extracurricular arrivals: no sports, no courses. language or music.
82% of the interviewees are at risk of addiction
Given these percentages, it is not surprising that according to the EURES survey 82% of respondents are at risk of smartphone addiction. Almost a quarter (22%) is placed in the critical area of ”alert addiction”, that is, in a high-risk range in which pathological relationships occur, with symptoms such as nomophobia (“no mobile phone phobia”, the fear of staying disconnected), anxiety and IAD (“internet addiction disorder”). 60% are placed in the middle range of the “risk of addiction”, where the smartphone occupies a dominant role “in different spaces and places of everyday life”. So only a minority, 18%, seems not to be affected by the risk of addiction, showing a use that is, after all, free from criticality.
The stories gleaned from the survey
Of the 600 stories reported in totally anonymous form by the researchers, some give the figure of the seriousness of the phenomenon, especially when it comes to revenge porn. A girl who participated in the survey reports that a friend of hers “is unfortunately gone now.” The reason? She committed suicide. “Her ex had threatened her that if she got married he would spread her intimate photos and so it was, she opened an Instagram profile putting all the shots he had taken of her in bed or in the shower, all the boys at school. they saw. The mother didn’t have time to go and report that she jumped off the balcony. ” We do not know the results of this story, just as we do not know of another that is always reported by an anonymous interviewee: “A girl was forced by her boyfriend, recently met to a swimming course, to have photos taken with bare breasts in the locker room by the pool. She tried to say she didn’t want to, but he insisted and then even threatened to show the photos to her parents if they broke up. The problem is that these photos ended up in a friend of him, who published them on social networks “.