Don’t tell me anymore that the smartphone is just a tool

Today from various quarters, the media shared news and details relating to the Postal Police operation called “Poison”, which brought to light a “community” made up of about 700 pre-adolescents and very young people who exchanged images of mutilated bodies, sexual abuse about minors, corpses, Hitler and Mussolini, as well as gruesome videos with acts of cruelty to humans and animals. The whole was spread across five Whatsapp and Instagram groups. A “toxic” movement of words and images based on the exchange of over 85 thousand The operation started with the complaint of a mother, whose son, within these groups, had suffered extortion. The chats of the boys were divided into thematic strands: Zoophile, Splat, Necrophile, Child pornography and Porno. If I think back to myself when I was 12, I think I probably would have ignored the meaning of at least 3 of these five words. And instead 700 very young people built messages, images, videos and they exchanged comments.

This is yet another horror that as adults sees us helpless spectators and educators unable to provide rules, educational frameworks and a sense of limit to children who, at the age when they should be dreaming of their first kiss, they socialize by sharing scenes of unprecedented rape and violence. Today many journalists asked me to comment on this news. Why do these horrible things happen? Whose fault is it? Why don’t parents control their children’s online life? These questions – so full of meaning – cannot have a sensible answer. Because the online life placed in the hands of a child under 10, 11 or 12 years old is a life that empties the most important things for which we are in the world of meaning and meaning. Human relationships become “social” experiences in which the narcissistic fragility of the very young forces them to present themselves in a “filtered” and often “stripped” version of themselves, in search of likes and validation of their own value. Curiosity and exploration in the territory of sexuality is nourished and nourished by an increasingly violent and limitless pornography in which the bodies, to generate excitement and attention, must be brought to the most extreme situations up to violence and mutilation.

Being in a community or chat at 12 can lead you to the obligation to see and post the most extreme things, more horrid, more disgusting in a sort of competition aimed at understanding “how far are you capable of resisting”. Why is all this happening? Personally I think that reason is within a culture that no longer accepts the importance of educating to the sense of the limit. In the total lack of perception of the limit, the “Poison” chat tells us that these preteens are screaming loudly: “Adults, where the hell are you? Why does no one come to tell us where the boundary between what is possible and what cannot be placed, between what is right and what is not, should be put? “. Perhaps, we adults are really no longer able to use our adult competence and authority to say to our children the “no’s that help them grow up”. We put in their hands, when they are 8 years old (sometimes even earlier) very complex tools that require skills of use that sometimes we ourselves parents do not have. We continue to affirm – and perhaps even to believe – that portable technologies, (smartphones in particular), are tools which it is enough to educate on the correct use to prevent things from happening like those that the media have told us today. Instead, smartphones are not tools, but they are “environments”, indeed they are “universes” in which those who enter risk getting lost and hurting themselves very much. They are managed with paradoxical criteria that do not take into account the growth needs of our children. Pornographic sites are forbidden to minors under the age of 18 but, through the logic of the algorithm, they do everything to recall within them the clumsy excited and inexperienced, uneducated and ignorant (i.e. ignoring) curiosity of children and preteens.

The result of this mix of reckless ingredients is the normalization of the horrid, the glamorization of the “terrifying”, the disappearance of the categories of “good” and “evil”, of “right” and “wrong”. Because these categories can only exist within an ethical awareness that knows how to define rules, limits and boundaries. And that it does so very clearly especially for those who do not yet possess this awareness, because they must form it thanks to the educational relationships in which they find themselves immersed. Parents seem unaware of what their children can experience online and therefore allow their children to enter it sooner. Even many experts they urge parents to always use tools earliereducating to make good use of it, neglecting to say that “even when you educate to good use” then you find yourself trapped in addictive, dopaminergic, manipulative dynamics that control and cancel all the cognitive efforts you try to put into play, thus finding yourself becoming – in the online world – what you didn’t intend to be.

After all, online is governed by rules (designed and implemented by the adult world) that force our children to do the worst things that a person in developmental age should never do. 700 minors in a chat of horrors: 700, not 3, not 10, not 30. But 700. That is a medium-sized secondary school. And these 700 were intercepted because a mother made the complaint. Now please don’t tell me anymore that the smartphone is a tool. You just need to learn how to use it well. The problem is vastly larger. And I, today more than ever, really think that the use of smartphones should be forbidden to minors under the age of 14. Here it is really necessary to learn how to use the network to create the only network that is needed: that of the educational alliance.

Don’t tell me anymore that the smartphone is just a tool