We have just made available an original material which offers guidelines for young people on how they should structure your digital lifestyle and which dangers to be aware of.
Base: Disconnect to connect.
Disconnect to connect: Knowing how and when to disconnect from the digital world is vital for remaining connected to reality. It sometimes happens that we have to be connected for working, following, publishing, learning, etc. There are so many excuses to be connected that we need to know when to say stop. Paradoxical though it may seem, the more digitally connected we are and the more online tasks that occupy our time, the more disconnected we become from reality and the less time we spend on important tasks that require our attention. This is the lie of multitasking and supposed virtual friendships. If you truly desire strong friendships, independent thought and really original ideas then you must learn to disconnect from the online world. Don’t worry, this call or that email really isn’t as important as they might seem. This is the basis of the digital lifestyle pyramid.
Related activities for you: Spend quality time with your family and true friends. Devote some time to reflection and nourish your spiritual life. Rest and relax, but without disregarding study, reading, exercise, healthy eating and contact with nature.
First level: Log into your responsibility
Log into your responsibility: The first level of the digital lifestyle pyramid is work. It may sound strange to younger individuals, but the truth is that the Internet, Smart phones, Wi-Fi, and ICT in general, should primarily serve the purpose of aiding our work. It is becoming more and more difficult to avoid availing of these technologies when doing homework, completing a task or solving a problem. However what has not changed is the value of learning how to work and follow things through, without being distracted. It is for precisely this reason that work and related responsibilities come first in the priorities of digital connectivity. Interestingly, those who neglect this aspect of the digital pyramid often end up wasting so much time that they ultimately realise that they have no time left to spend with friends or relaxing.
Related activities for you: Carry out research online while staying connected primarily for work-related reasons. Take advantage of ICT Tools that can improve your work. Read the news and share useful material.
Second level: Keep connected with friends
Keep connected with friends: The ability to make friends is an important and impressive human characteristic. The first thing to consider is if your friends are true friends. When you add a stranger as a friend on Facebook it doesn’t make it a real friendship. Social networks, chats, posting pictures and videos, etc., can all help you to keep in touch with your true friends. One of the greatest contributions of new technologies is that they allow us to stay in touch with other people regardless of place, time or circumstance. However, the truth is that you will rarely make friends with complete strangers online ( although some companies try to suggest otherwise ). Some advice: use digital technology to continue having fun with friends, but don’t forget that a short text message or photo is often not enough to substitute for a pat on the back. Oftentimes, it is most important just to know that your friend is there.
Related activities for you: Chat with friends and share photos, videos, news and ideas. Keep your friendships alive by bridging the physical gap between you, thanks to new technologies. Participate socially, get involved in campaigns that you find interesting and give support to those who need and deserve it.
Third level: Enjoy being connected
Enjoy being connected: If you are able to disconnect, know when you need to work and when you have time to spend with friends online, then you should also simply enjoy being connected. Take advantage of everything enjoyable that the digital world has to offer., including millions of videos, songs, videogames, books and interesting websites. However, you must remember that you are at the top of the pyramid. Nobody can have fun if they have no friends to share it with, if they know they have work to do ( and feel unable to do it ) and above all if they are incapable of disconnecting when they know they should.
Related activities for you: Play online and offline games, listen to your favourite music and follow your favourite artists, watch funny videos…there are countless activities that you can enjoy at this level.
Online dangers: Not everything that exists online is suitable for the digital lifestyle pyramid. You have to be careful when deciding what to do or not to do online, as ultimately the decision remains yours. Here is some advice on situations to avoid online.
Social Isolation: Do you know anyone who is completely disconnected from the real world? You probably do. According to the World Health Organisation, 1 in 4 people suffer from some form of addiction to technology. Their digital connections are, so to speak, just another form of social disconnection. Unfortunately in these cases, the digital world becomes the real world for those affected. The digital lifestyle pyramid can effectively be turned upside down for these people, as they are so isolated by technology that they cannot operate without it. Work scares them and their friendships are reduced to thousands of pixels on a screen. This can happen to all of us, to a certain extent, when we focus too much on the screen and forget about the bigger picture. Ultimately problems arise when we are unable to see beyond the screen.
Cyberbullying: Friendship occupies a central position in the digital lifestyle pyramid, but the online phenomenon of cyberbullying is a direct threat to this good. For those unfamiliar with the concept, cyberbullying is a particular form of bullying that belittles a person online continually over a period of time. It is really shocking how much damage can be done by hurling abuse on social networks. If you are a victim of cyberbullying, don’t give the perpetrators the satisfaction of a response.
Dangerous behaviour: It may seem excessive to warn about dangerous online conduct, but there are many malicious phenomena across the Internet which you may not be aware of. These include pro-ana and pro-mia websites ( which promote anorexia and bulimia respectively ), friendly strangers asking for personal information and betting websites which encourage you to spend money. Some of these activities may appear fun at the beginning, but the entertainment they provide often comes at too high a price.
Pornography: Possibly the greatest social evil produced by our use of new technology. It is no secret that the Internet, online messaging boards and advertising are all sources of pornographic material which is available at the click of a button. Therefore, it is appropriate to ask what the problems with pornographic content are. What you may not be aware of is that pornography is highly addictive by nature, and some scientists even compare the chemical reaction in the brain caused by watching pornography to reactions caused by drugs like heroin. Although some like to obscure the issue by labelling it as “adult content”, the truth of the matter is that the main consumers of pornography are between 11 and 17 years old. The abuse of women working in this industry has been widely documented, and can even be compared to the exploitation of black slaves in past centuries. Worst of all, regularly consuming pornography changes your behaviour to the extent that you can become incapable of having a normal relationship with other people and the digital world.