Abad, M. J. (Coord.) (2022). Empantallados. Cómo educar con éxito a tus hijos en un mundo lleno de pantallas [Screen-addicts. How to educate your children successfully in a world full of screens]. (Ezequiel Delgado-Martín)



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Abad, M. J. (Coord.) (2022).
Empantallados. Cómo educar con éxito a tus hijos en un mundo lleno de pantallas [Screen-addicts. How to educate your children successfully in a world full of screens].
Vergara. 255 pp.


An idea that is engraved in stone, and that we all have, is that technology is here to stay. Although until 2019 we could clearly see its importance in our everyday lives, since the COVID-19 pandemic it has become obvious that now, not only is it important, it is necessary. Rick Howard, vice president of research at the technology consultancy Gartner, indicates that “while pandemic related challenges will continue for some time, technological trends have emerged that present critical challenges” (Howard et al., 2021). ,

However, embracing digital devices with their wide range of options and their role in the education of our young people still raises numerous questions. Parents’ and educators’ intuition and common sense in this case cannot rely on the support of the experience of previous generations, as this digital world has only just come into existence. Our young people are the first in history to have such powerful devices and we are the first generation of parents and educators to face the challenge of education with screens as the special guests. This is a challenge with a capital “C”: not only to educate with these omnipresent screens, but also to do so in this new environment of personal, social, educational and professional performance. “Digital education is nothing more than a new arena in which we can put everything that makes us who we are into practice” (p. 250). ,

We frequently receive contradictory messages regarding screens and their use in the education and upbringing of children. On one hand, the pandemic has led us to the discovery that screens are a great ally against distancing and isolation, whether social, professional or educational. On the other hand, there is a constant stream of reports and studies that describe the potentially negative effects of exposure to these devices. Only a few days ago, the Italian Ministry of Education issued a notice prohibiting the use of “mobile telephones and otherelectronic devices during educational activities” in classrooms (Ministero dell’Istruzione e del Merito, 2022). As regards the family environment, the authors suggest that: ,

In this context of the certainty of their presence and the uncertainty surrounding their possibilities, challenges and dangers, Empantallados. Cómo educar con éxito a tus hijos en un mundo lleno de pantallas is a timely alert for parents, educators and specialists, and a thought-provoking source of ideas for researchers. Faced with this panorama, we could become overwhelmed by fear of the unknown, however, “We cannot undertake the education of our children out of fear, as fear offers nothing” (p. 250). ,

From the first page, it is written in a style that is optimistic, creative, hopeful, thought-provoking and realistic, created as a reference manual and without using a strictly academic tone: a companion to take on the journey of educating our children and students. This book is designed to be consulted (and used) in combination with the resources that the working group has collected and created, and which are available on the Empantallados website. It is the result of countless sessions, workshops, studies and conversations with families that mostly live in Spain. It has also involved collaboration from INCIBE (Instituto Nacional de Ciberseguridad – the Spanish National Cybersecurity Institute), the social research consultancy GAD3 and a wide range of professionals in the fields of education and technology. Empantallados. Cómo educar con éxito a tus hijos en un mundo lleno de pantallas was born as an initiative of the educational group Fomen- to de Centros de Enseñanza (Promotion of Educational Centres), which has 60 years’ experience in educating young people. The group includes 35 schools, 20 nursery schools and a university centre. ,

The context that the authors describe in the first section, “Educar en una montaña rusa de emociones” (Education on an emotional roller coaster), relating to the society in which young people are going to move in is detailed and precise: a society ready for instant gratification, with difficulties in managing abundance, a preference for the superficial, a short attention-span and an addiction to emotions. Within this context, it provides a snapshot of our young people’s generation in an optimistically realistic way, whilst identifying the risks posed by its specific characteristics: The risks and opportunities of immediacy; from self-esteem based on “likes” to digital adolescence. The guidelines included, beginning with the introduction, ensure that we will gain in-depth knowledge of the reality that we are going to encounter and the right position to adopt in facing this challenge: a proactive attitude, leading us from feeling worried to taking action. ,

Once this context has been described, the book goes on to address the characteristics of the different stages of young people’s development and maturity, providing recommendations based on the evidence. Subsequently, it analyses the role of parents and educators, tackling such complex issues as the balance between the use we make of technology, as adults, for work and managing household chores, and the example we set and the attention that we should give to our children: “There is a great difference between paying attention to our children and not paying attention to them at a certain point in time” (p. 109). ,

The second part of the book, “Construyendo una cultura digital propia” (Building our own digital culture), addresses the tremendous opportunities that technology and digital devices can provide for family projects in terms of variety, depth and strength: the potential for a holiday that has been planned by everyone together, the safeguarding of special moments to be treasured, the planning of shared screen time, and how everything can and should be included in the raising and education of children — the combination of traditional games, video games, cinema, reading, hobbies, music, etc. It also provides a firm basis for the need to respect sleep and protect rest time, meal-times as a platform for family gatherings to get to know each other and learn to love each other, family moments, etc. ,

In the third section, “Las doce preguntas más frecuentes sobre pantallas de los padres y madres” (The twelve most frequent questions that parents have about screens), it delves even deeper into the everyday lives of families and the situations that, as adults, we frequently have to negotiate without being sure of having the right answers: when is the time to give them their first mobile phone; the significance of parental control; how to know whether our children’s relationship with screens is healthy or not; if it is not, how to act; how to know if they are in safe environments; how to protect them, how to help them; how to survive in the school Whatsapp group, etc. It is also to be welcomed that the authors enlighten parents about our children’s dreams of becoming youtubers, influencers, tiktokers, gamers, etc. ,

Lastly, the authors dedicate the fourth part, “El futuro profesional de tus hijos y la tecnología” (Your children’s professional future and technology) to an analysis of the opportunities that will be available in the future in the world of technology, which is changing at great speed. It is interesting that their perspective does not focus on this future but rather on the children, on discovering who they are, what their interests are and creating a synergy with the possibilities that these devices offer to foster children’s knowledge, abilities and skills. At the same time, several studies insist on the necessity of continuing to work on specifically human skills and value systems (Unicef, 2020). ,

Before the end, the book provides an important reflection that gives meaning to everything we have read in it regarding freedom. During their education, young people go from a state of total dependence to personal autonomy, as part of a gradual process. In this process, children should be helped to adopt their own set of principles and values that will govern how they act in the world: ,

And the education that we have always sought to give young people remains unchanged, but new environments have come into existence, such as the digital, in which we need to teach them how to retain their identity and give the best of themselves. This book is, without a doubt, an extremely useful map to help us to avoid drifting through this New World. ,,

Ezequiel Delgado-Martín ■ ,,

References ,

Abad, M. J. (Coord.) (2022). Empantallados. Cómo educar con éxito a tus hijos en un mundo lleno de pantallas [Screen-addicts. How to educate your children successfully in a world full of screens]. Vergara. ,

Howard, B. R., Finnerty, B., Kaner, B., Mickoleit, A., Brown, M., Fabular, I., Cannon, N., Mendonsa, A., Lacheca, D., Kaushik, A., & Thielemann, K. (2021). Top technology trends in government for 2021. Gartner Inc. ,

Ministero dell’Istruzione e del Merito. (2022). Indicazioni sull’utilizzo dei telefoni cellulari e analoghi dispositivi elettronici in classe [Guidance on the use of mobile phones and similar electronic devices in the classroom]. Circular. ,

Unicef. (2020). Estudio sobre el impacto de la tecnología en la adolescencia [Study on the impact of technology on adolescence]. Unicef España. ,

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