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About Surviving Digital


We can’t wait any longer to protect children from the consequences of society’s tech obsessions

- USA Today 2020

The screens take a considerable place in the life of each one of us and more particularly of our children. Digital technology has become increasingly and irreversibly important in education and culture and, more generally, in the life of our society. Huge economic and commercial interests are at stake. However, it has become clear over the years that this evolution has also had deleterious effects that give rise to great concern, so much so that the rapid development of the presence of screens in our lives and particularly in the lives of our children, is leading everyone to question both the uses they make of them and the time they spend on them.

One of the main questions that arises is whether excessive use of screens can lead to a real behavioral addiction. This notion must be approached with precaution because it corresponds to a precise medical definition, reserved for particularly serious pathologies. Moreover, these characterized behavioral addictions are often associated with comorbid psychiatric disorders such as depression, anxiety, phobias or personality disorders. The understanding of this issue is complicated in children and adolescents because of the diversity of psychological context and individual situations.

We generally underestimate the role of social vulnerabilities, which have a major impact on the relationship with screens. Indeed, not all children and adolescents are placed in equivalent family, cultural and social contexts and the consequences of the misuse of screens appear all the more serious when the child is in a vulnerable situation: the absence or insecurity of employment, material difficulties of the family, too great a distance to educational, social or medical services, an impoverished cultural context, are all factors that can make it difficult, even inaccessible, to understand the digital world, to educate about the uses of screens, to develop a critical distance and to achieve the necessary self-regulation.

For several years, the city of Saint Denis and the IRI have been working with parents whose children suffer from disorders due to their early overexposure to screens.

The workshops began with the observation that smartphones - and the progressive invasion of space and time that they entail - are a recent phenomenon, with little established knowledge, and with which everyone - parent, childcare professional, researcher - is at a loss. How to get children and their parents out of overexposure to screens? There is a consensus on the fact that it is not a question of eliminating all screens but of considering them as a pharmakon, i.e. containing positive as well as negative potentialities and thus being able to constitute a remedy as well as a poison. It will also be a question of stimulating, or even inventing, positive parental uses of screens. All the partners are conducting projects on the use of digital tools, their dangers and opportunities. Our approach is participative: how to train adult trainers and adults themselves to create prevention and support approaches to the fight against screen and digital addictions.

Our objectives are:

  • Create tangible and transferable tools for adults and parents (study, method, guide and training curriculum)
  • Empower the adult participants by recognizing their knowledge and contribution to their peers
  • to propose exchanges of know-how with visible and exploitable results in Europe.

These results are addressed to adults, adult education actors and parents, medical staff, local authorities and parents. They are inclusive and are built with the help of adults with fewer opportunities who contribute to the project.

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