Currently a huge part of the world population can have access to new technologies, but is the young Latin American population actually taking the best of them?
New technologies, particularly mobile ones, like phones, have been widely adopted by young people and integrated into their everyday lives, no matter if they know all of their features and possibilities. The topic has not been treated deeply until now that it is more evident than ever. Young people are using mobile technologies in a greater proportion than adults nowadays, even when this does not mean they are making the most of it.
During the last years the relationship among children, adolescent and new technologies has been one of the most active and curious. This due to the paradox of the situation of being the first generation fully influenced by this technology era and the one that hasn’t taken the chances and plenty opportunities to be exploited in the use of technologies.
Let’s take a look at the study made by the Department of Media and Communication from the Universidad de Navarra, Spain.
It presents how this issue has been dealt with in the case of Latin American children and adolescents through a research project funded by Telefonica and Foro Generaciones Interactivas and conducted by some researchers at the University.
The document presents some findings of a comparative study that during three years surveyed over 200,000 minors (6-18yo) in nine Latin American countries.
One of the aspects studied, confirms that although the socioeconomic and cultural conditions of Latin American countries affect the approach and use of technology, research finds that as in other developed countries, technology penetration, affinity and level of use of this age group are well above national averages. As it will be explained, there are however notable differences by country, age and gender.
In this context, getting nearer to the extent in which information and communication technologies affect children attracted significant interest for several reasons.
THE LATIN AMERICAN APPROACH In 2007, a group of Spanish researchers launched a project aimed at ascertaining the level of penetration, the assessment and the impact that new screens (mobile, internet, video games) were having on Latin American minors.
The Latin American region is big and diverse. The countries this project was covering should not be compared in a simplistic way. This was the reason why the first report published in 2008 included a national chapter authored by a national expert depicting the particularities of each country from and educational, political, and infrastructural points of view. It was made clear that while countries as Chile, Argentina, Colombia or Peru were investing both in infrastructure and educational resources, others as Ecuador and Guatemala were still giving their first steps due also, in the case of the lack of infrastructure, to a complex orography. While the big cities in Mexico and Brazil were at a more developed stage, these countries have bigger territories to be covered and it is usual to find big differences between rural and urban areas in terms of access, infrastructure and also economic and societal development.
It has been suggested that “Individuals tend to expose themselves to ideas that are in accordance with their interests, needs, and existing attitudes”
For what was just said, this is the first point for the discussion, and of this already explained, it is evident that the context in which this young generation was raised into is a big fact to take into account.
As a second point for this topic and maybe the main one, is the reason why young people enjoy less all the opportunities offered by technology, even less than an important part of the adult population.
It was observed that the young people tend to experiment with and evaluate a technology if it is convenient, affordable, supports their actual rather than hypothetical activities or satisfies activities or satisfies their needs for style or fashion. The most powerful attractor for mobile technologies is convenience.
There was also a range of attitudes about the importance of style or fashion with mobile phones coming from the young generations. Some participants of the study suggested that fashion is more important to primary-aged children However, style and fashion was nominated in the second round of focus groups as one of the most important drivers of initial mobile phone use.
As we have seen it has happened around the world also youngsters in Latin American countries are accessing and using information technologies to a higher extent than adult population. The presumed educational purposes behind technology adoption and the appeal for this target group due to its functionalities (entertainment and communication possibilities) could help to explain this gap.
But the fact is that despite this age group is using these technologies less intensively than their counterparts, for them these screens are mainly communication and leisure devices: making and receiving calls, sending messages, taking pictures, recording videos, listening to music or just playing games are the most usual activities.
As we have seen it has happened around the world also youngsters in Latin American countries are accessing and using information technologies to a higher extent than adult population.
And to be brief, let’s be honest this new generation was born into this technology culture, needs in this age are different, young adults more than anything are the ones that were born in the middle, being able to take a look at both sides and appreciate and take advantage of those devices they couldn’t have even imagined.
So, in conclusion, context, education and appreciation are the base for this battle without a winner, because at the end, each one makes the choice.