Olivia Alonso |

Madrid (EFE).- “The Internet is a world without control and governments cannot follow their profile.” It is the warning issued by a public health expert in the face of the problems generated by the irresponsible use of screens and pornography, also causing an increase in sexual violence, suicide attempts or self-harm among young people.

This is the professor of Public Health at the University of Navarra, Miguel Ángel Martínez González, who has just published the book “Salmon, hormones and screens” (Planet) with the aim of improving “a seriously threatened public health”.

In an interview with EFE, the visiting professor at Harvard also assures that between 2009 and 2017, with the universalization of smartphones, suicidal ideation in young people and adolescents increased by 25% in the world and diagnoses of clinical depression grew by 37 % between 2005 and 2015. Additionally, the average self-harm rate has been 62% since 2009 and has skyrocketed for girls.

The professor of Public Health at the University of Navarra, Miguel Ángel Martínez González, on the use and control of the Internet
The professor of Public Health at the University of Navarra, Miguel Ángel Martínez González, has just published the book “Salmon, hormones and screens” (Planet). EFE/Editorial Planeta

These are some of the data that Martínez uses to refer to the “worst mental health crisis imaginable in young people”, which, he assures, “is caused by screens, mobile phones and networks”, and that epidemiological evidence already confirms. .

“Social networks tend to homogenize the population and make it gregarious”, which is why he raises his voice against this dynamic and encourages young people “to be salmon that swim against the current and not clones.

Public health and preventive medicine

“The great problems of medicine have not been solved by a prodigious drug or surgery, but have been solved through public health and preventive medicine.”

This is how clear the expert is, who seeks to raise controversy in the face of a “massively accepted, but harmful” way of life, and who remembers that, like what happened in the fight against tobacco or obesity, the first thing to do is achieve social mobilization that, he stresses, has already begun.

He is sure that this social mobilization “will end up won” even if he has fewer resources and faces “sharks” with strong commercial interests.

Measures to adopt

Martínez González promotes the education of both parents and adolescents.

“Those who are the last to give their children a smart phone should be rewarded,” he told EFE, while stressing that “dumb parents give a smart phone and the smart ones give a stupid one.”

Young people are urged to abandon the motto “photocopy, therefore I am” and defend their own identity and swim against the tide to face a toxic culture.

A young man plays on his computer.  The uncontrolled use of the Internet, a public health problem
A young man plays on his computer. EFE/Oliver Berg

It ensures that governments must apply structural measures and limit the spread of certain content on the Internet, such as pornography. He advocates the imposition of filters so that some pages are difficult to access and heavy tax charges and fines for those companies that “are making a profit at the cost of harming people’s health.”

In this sense, remember that the Wall Street Journal uncovered internal reports from the Instagram social network in 2021, in which it recognized -although they hid them- the damage they did to girls, by inciting them to think that “or they were ‘barbies’ or they were unsuccessful”, which generated many eating disorders or suicidal behavior, among others.

screen addiction

The professor of Public Health considers that the use of mobile phones is compulsive and dependent, which is why the term “nomophobia” (irrational fear of not having a phone, running out of battery or without connection) has been generated.

He warns that the use of mobile phones enhances sleep disorders because young people “spend all night looking at screens”, as well as triggering mental disorders.

He denounces that mobile phones have also contributed to trigger diagnoses of attention deficit and ensures that minors realize that they lose concentration, study and cannot get it to pay off.

A young man plays a video game online.  The uncontrolled use of the Internet, a public health problem
A young man plays a video game online. EFE/Oliver Berg

He also criticizes the “emotional illiteracy” that screens are generating, as they do not have the warmth or immediacy of direct contact that generates empathy. “You have many virtual friends, but very few to hug,” she emphasizes.

The screens, first educator

In the pages of “Salmon, hormones and screens” the expert does not hesitate to acknowledge that “right now the main educators are the screens”, which promote clones and messages that have nothing to do with reality and which show scenes of very hard sex, that do not respond to real sex and always suppose an abuse of the woman.

After warning that “pornography creates addiction and destroys the brain”, even affecting physiology because “it causes the prefrontal cortex to be lost”, Miguel Ángel Martínez-González regrets that screens and technology have created a hypersexualized society.

He also denounces the role of some “influencers” as tutors: “They know that the more morbid they put into their videos and the more they expose their psychological and personal problems, the more followers they will have.”

Something that also criticizes what happens with “pornographic self-exposure” or with tutorials, covert or explicit, in which he realizes reasons for committing suicide or self-harm. “That is where the government will have to enter to legislate and impose fines,” he claims.

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