Documentary The new "infinite" drug that threatens children

Bru started consuming porn at the age of 10

Documentary The new "infinite" drug that threatens children

Bru started consuming porn at the age of 10. Now he is no longer a child, but he remembers those times with a single sentence: "It was a very strong addiction." A young man who, before losing his innocence, was already an addict. "These are the drugs of our time," says Anna Lembke, a Stanford neurologist and one of the voices to be heard in the documentary Screen Addicts. "Some drugs that, unlike cocaine, are infinite," she warns. "The way they suck you in is a total addiction." She doesn't exaggerate.

Addicted to the Screen is the result of many months of work by the production company Onza and Atresmedia. The journalists Alejandra Andrade and Tomás Ocaña delve into the darkest part of an addiction that everyone knows about, that everyone talks about and that everyone knows about. Because? Because everyone has a mobile phone, computer and tablet, because they have become essential tools in our daily lives, but nobody wants to face their most perverse side.

"The other day I was at a meeting at my eldest son's school," says Gabriela, who prefers not to say her real name or her children's school to maintain her privacy. "Once the tutor spoke about the evolution of the class, about what the move to the next course will mean, he called the attention of all the parents to what they were finding in the class -12-year-old children- with those students who already had a mobile phone and, worst of all, who already had social networks. I was very scared by everything he said and that my son still doesn't have one. It scared me to hear what they are already doing at this age with those mobiles and with a technology of which it seems we do not want to be aware of the danger it entails," says this mother.

Children who, despite not having the legal age to have social networks, have it and use it without any type of control. Children who are not aware of the 'weapon' they have in their hands and, above all, the damage they can do and can do to them.

Gabriela's fear is the fear that led Onza and Atresmedia to produce this documentary that can be seen shortly - there is still no release date - on laSexta and Atresplayer Premium. The story of this documentary began one day in a conference when Gonzalo Sagardía, CEO of Onza, discovered that a manager of a pornographic portal "was very satisfied" with having managed to get children to enter his portal for the first time at age 11. years, instead of the 12 that he had achieved up to that moment. "That's when I realized that they deliberately go after them," he explains. "And children don't have personal resources or tools to overcome stimuli specifically designed to engage them."

When you want to realize the child is no longer a child, he is a walking video game

They are the largest companies in the world, those in Silicon Valley, where the documentary team will go to delve even deeper into the origin of the "drug of our time." Companies that "have unlimited resources" with which they "hire the best neuroscientists, who know perfectly well how to make us compulsive users, reaching addicts in some cases," Sagardía insists.

This is what this series of three chapters on the causes and consequences of new addictions wants to demonstrate: social networks, video games, gambling and porn. Screens, screens, screens... That the youth's attachment to them is not the result of chance, but rather the result of "great business" that is actively looking for new clients. And it does so by listening to the voices of those who fell, of those who, while still children, became addicts.

"The stories that this documentary series tells us, the data it provides and the perspective it gives us on this issue show that we are facing a very serious problem," explains Carmen Ferreiro, director of entertainment programs for Atresmedia TV. "That leads us to focus on situations that occur in our society and that are worrying," she insists.

How many 12-year-olds don't have a cell phone? Are we aware of the risks that new technologies entail for adolescents? It is difficult for any parent to ask these questions and not get a cold chill down their spine. "Many parents in particular, and society in general, are not aware of this," says Sagardía.

"I was locked in my room all day with Tik Tok and Instagram, I only went out to eat and buy tobacco." Laura entered the Amalgama 7 Therapeutic School in Can Ros, an internal center for children and adolescents with serious addiction problems. Kids who consume up to 18 hours a day in front of the screens. Their families fight, they fight to be cured of these substanceless addictions. "When you want to realize, the child is no longer a child, he is a walking video game," a mother is heard saying. Because this mother's story can be the story of any of us.

"The most impressive thing about the documentary was seeing how these children were dominated by their addictions and had no control over their actions," says the producer. Because each testimony of each one of the three chapters of Addicted to the screen is the testimony of addicted children. Children who, as the documentary's experts say, "could not lead a normal life because their addiction totally prevented them." Children who locked themselves in their rooms and their world and who, until the family realized it, did not start "the fight to get out."

In fact, one of the experts consulted clearly states that these companies are determined to attract users as soon as possible so that "in adulthood they develop abusive behavior more easily."

It is not only the danger of getting hooked on the screen, it is the risk that "when something is free, the price is your information", warns Sagardía. This button shows how the problem of social networks is not the result of chance, but rather a strategy by technology companies to attract increasingly younger customers. Scientists, former directors of these companies, prosecutors and victims are clear about what happens to young people: they are going after them. "Big tech is reaching immense heights of power thanks to our information, thanks to our children's information," she adds. According to Carissa Véliz, PhD in Philosophy from the University of Oxford and author of the book Privacy is power, "it is alarming that these companies have a policy of making money at the cost of anything and are exploiting children."

I have come to bet on sports that I did not even know what they consisted of

Adults have to be aware that it is "dangerous for a 12-year-old boy or girl to have a mobile phone with data, unlimited access and without any restrictions to the Internet or social networks," says Sagardía, who warns that parents They do have tools to stop addiction before it arrives: "First they have to activate some parental control system (...) The second thing is that they explain to their sons and daughters everything they want to know about sexuality before they get to surf the Internet because sooner rather than later they are going to come across porn. And, finally, establish clear rules of use".

It sounds like what they always say, what they always recommend. And even so, "the drug of our time" will continue to exist because "children are the great victims of some of these companies that have no scruples," says Onza.

"I have come to bet on sports that I did not even know what they consisted of. Everything goes so fast that it is impossible for you to know what you are doing," says Dani. Dani came to spend 100,000 euros on online bets: "Behind all this there is a mafia, a great industry that is feeding on the whole of society." It is not a question of prohibiting, it is a question of preventing. And the key "is in the family and in positive education," says Sagardía. "82% of kids who don't have regular family dinners have consumed porn in the past 30 days," she concludes.

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