Being Connected: Illusion or Delusion?

27 Dec 2018

Clinical Psychologist Claudia López, from Mexico City, will use her STI Master’s in Social Science Research grant to study the digital consumption practices of adolescents and young adults, and the cultural and generational implications emerging from them.

Why is this topic so important?

As we see growing numbers of teenagers hypnotized by their devices and children not interacting with others because they are glued to their screens, we must try to understand what’s driving these behavioral responses. We are facing the first generation making text messages and social media substitutes for other activities that are crucial to their development. This is leading many of them to mistake the virtual world for the real one, turning their consumption practices into a constant search for approval and connection with others, resulting in serious psychological and social harm. Specifically, young people from this generation experience greater difficulty starting and maintaining relationships, and are developing a sense of worth that is increasingly dependent on external validation. They also exhibit higher levels of anxiety, identity issues, depression, aggressive behavior, loneliness, frustration, and impatience, among other issues. While the digital landscape alters our relationship with reality, investigating the human and psychological aspects of this transformation becomes crucial, given the pervasive influence that technology has at present, and the likelihood that it will only grow in the future.

So, are you saying technology is bad for us?

Technology is one of modernity’s greatest achievements. If it’s used the right way, we could witness still greater innovations for the benefit of humanity. However, the way we think about technology as a neutral tool belies great misconceptions. Nowadays, the main measure for business success in the digital world is screen time (the amount of time users spend on a given platform). Because of this, the leading tech industries are developing very sophisticated psychological hooks as persuasive strategies to make their products more addictive and beat competitors for our attention.

Why as a psychologist, did you decide to undertake Master’s in Social Science Research?

In my experience as a psychologist, the study of mind and behavior becomes an impossible task if we do not understand and research the context of the many social influences pressing on us. For this reason, I decided to study the MICS as a complement to the clinical aspect of my career. I believe we, as professionals, have a human and moral responsibility to not be indifferent to the social and cultural changes we are living through.

Why continue your studies in Spain?

The University of Navarra has a great reputation and years of research experience; the Master’s being coordinated by the Institute for Culture and Society offers the guarantee that not only the methodological tools for investigation will be supplied, but also that proposals that seek social change will be encouraged.