Society

Italian teenagers with smartphone addictions and risks of revenge porn

An Italian survey among high school students of Roma found out that 82% of Italian teenagers have a smartphone addiction. Almost half of them consider it as an urgent issue. One in 10 shared intimate images of themselves, among which 20% were forced to do so.

Young smartphone user
A survey in high schools in Roma, Italy found that 82% of teenager are at risks of smartphone addiction | © Cyn Yoder

A study published on November 30 by Eures, an Italian research institute in collaboration with the ministry of Labor and Social policies and the Lazio Region studied the uses and habits of Italian teenagers with smartphones.

They interviewed and received questionnaires from 1,649 children attending high schools in Roma. Usually aged between 14 and 18 years old, they reviewed their experiences with their mobile phones from online gaming to sexting and their addictions with the device.

22% highly addicted to smartphones

On average, the survey shows that more than half of the Italian Gen-Z received the first smartphone at the age of 11 or before. It corresponds to the moment when they leave primary school to start their middle school years. Only a third of them got a phone after 11.

The new generation doesn’t seem always eager to get one though. In fact, a little more than half of the new generation of Italians received a smartphone after asking for it to their parents. But 41% of them said they unexpectedly received it as a gift without even requesting a mobile device.

Among young Italians, 82% have at least a soft smartphone addiction.

Almost one in four (22%) are considered to be highly addicted with a “prolonged and/or uncontrolled use of their smartphones“. In these cases of Internet Addiction Disorder (IAD), there is a higher probability teenagers face psycho-physical problems like anxiety, mood disorders, attention deficit, nomophobia (no mobile phone phobia), etc. Smartphone addicts are more likely to withdraw from social activities and live in a virtual world.

The first reason why Italian teenagers use a smartphone is that they don’t particularly have one, other than fighting boredom and fill the void of inactivity with entertainment. And they use smartphones a lot.

Italian teenagers spend more than 6 hours a day with smartphones

Young Italians use their smartphones 6 hours a day on average and one in four uses it more than 8 hours a day. On average, young girls use it an hour more every day than Italian boys.

Smartphones are the central devices of a teenager’s life. Often multitasking, they spend the most time, more than 2 hours a day, watching stories and videos from friends, influencers or celebrities online. Then they also spend their times communicating with friends. Mobile phones are the preferred choice for 9 in 10 Italian adolescents for listening to music, and for 45% of them to get news.

Ninety percent have an active Instagram account, 87% use WhatsApp.

Yet, the Italian young generation considers the appropriate amount of time to spend with a smartphone would be 4 hours and 14 minutes a day, even if it’s the actual usage time for less than 1 in 5. Seven in ten admit they spend too much time on their smartphones. They also use it to feel better when they feel blue (72%).

The youth is somehow self-conscious that smartphone addiction is a problem. Eighty-five percent of them consider it as an issue for their generation. And almost half of them (44%) think that smartphone addiction is a “real emergency for new generations. Their views on the dangers of smartphone addictions is widely shared as only 15% either reject any form of issue or consider it as exaggerated.

20% of teenagers who shared intimate images of themselves were forced to do so

But they also see smartphones as an “inviolable” private area as only 15% consider parents have the right to control their children’s smartphone activities. Some may fear their reactions when they find out what they use it for.

In fact, 1 in 10 has already shared intimate or sexually explicit images or videos of themselves at least once in the last 3 years.

For 64% of those who shared intimate images or videos of themselves the main driver of this activity is entertainment, “confirming the lack of knowledge of the possible consequences (judicial and psychological) of these behaviors” the report points out.

More alarmingly, 20% of those who shared intimate photos or videos of themselves and answered the questionnaire said that they were not able to say no. The reports explains they did so to “comply with a request they were unable to escape from“.

Forty-four percent of Italian girls who experienced sexting disliked it while only 18% of boys have a negative experience of it.

With sexting and sharing intimate images, the risks of revenge porn increase. And 8% of those who shared their own intimate images or videos then found them on the Internet against their will.

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