According to the Instituto Cervantes, it is the direct translation of the Anglo-Saxon term hyperconnectivity. It was coined by data science experts Anabel Quan-Haase and Barry Wellman. It is a very recent concept, from the beginning of the 21st century, and comes to refer to the “synchronized and coordinated use of different devices and means of communication “. On Wikipedia, these media and devices are, for example, email, instant messaging, mobile phones, and video calls. However, its neutral origin has fallen into disuse and hyperconnectivity is normally spoken of as something bad, as a negative consequence of the constant use of technology on a day-to-day basis. We can safely say that most of us are hyperconnected. Computers, mobile phones, smartwatches and bracelets, televisions connected to the Internet, smart speakers… Many times we have no choice, our work obligations lead us to it. Other times, it is inevitable that we spend so much time on technologies that make our lives easier and allow us to carry out certain recreational activities.
But when we mix hyperconnectivity and childhood, that’s when the alarm bells go off. Hyperconnectivity can be good or bad for an adult on many levels. That is another discussion. We start from the fact that this adult is, precisely, an adult and what this implies. In the case of a child or minor, we are talking about a non-adult who is physically and mentally forming as an adult. And precisely because of this relevant fact, hyper-connectivity can be harmful.
Misuse starts with us
How many times have we seen babies or very young children holding a smartphone in which cartoon images are played? The mobile phone is a substitute for the rattle and the pacifier. Hyperconnectivity in adulthood depends on many factors, but in childhood, the first gateway to many of our children’s experiences is ourselves.
Determining at what ages we start providing them with music, taking them on trips, taking them to a museum, or giving them access to a television or an electronic device, to name a few of the experiences that will be found throughout their childhood, are personal decisions. that parents should take according to their own considerations. But, of course, we must bear in mind that not all activities or experiences are suitable or recommended for all ages.
Where to put the limit to hyperconnectivity?
Making this decision is difficult for several reasons. First, many of today’s leisure activities go through screens or connected devices. That is to say, if in our childhood we were already scolded for spending all day in front of the television and/or the console, nowadays we must add the hours that a child or minor can spend in front of the computer, a smartphone, or a tablet. Not because of the device itself, but because with that device you have access to videos, and music, and communicate with your friends, family, and schoolmates…
Second difficulty to delimiting hyperconnectivity. Children, and especially adolescents, are social beings. And precisely at those ages is when they want and/or need the company of other children and adolescents the longest. Hence, they spend time on social networks and do activities with friends such as watching videos together or playing online. How far can we go against the current? This difficulty is added to the fact that, precisely because of social exchange, the rules of some parents are compared with those of other parents. The classic “so-and-so is allowed to play online until 12 and you only until 9”.
Although it sounds better on paper than in practice, the best solution is to find a balance between the time you spend online and the rest of your daily activities. Hanging the dangerous sign on the hyperconnection without assessing how each child uses that time does not lead to anything either. And even more, if we take into account that the total prohibition is to postpone a greater evil when he is an adult: not being familiar with technologies that will be, and are already, essential for any social field.
The constant search for balance
When and how we introduce the minor to certain practices or uses of technology will depend on the maturity of each child and their age. We must take into account that some of these technologies will be tools to learn and/or, in their adulthood, to work. The more familiar they are, the more competitive advantages they will have. Of course, it is convenient to know when and how to accompany them in this learning and discovery of technologies such as video games, screens, or online games. Hyperconnectivity may be unavoidable but not uncontrollable.
Dosing the use of technology will be easier for us if we also provide them with alternative activities such as playing sports, inside or outside school, or acquiring hobbies that have to do with going outside or using non-technological elements. What experts call digital disconnection. The same thing that an adult does when they have been working for a long time in front of the computer or a child or minor when they have been studying for a long time. But it is clear that these alternative activities must be chosen. Forcing the minor to go for a walk or to practice a sport that he does not like is guaranteed failure.