Image | Patrik Nygren

Curious, pragmatic and aware of the risks of the Internet and social networks. These are some of the characteristics that define the so-called “Selfie Generation”. These are young people between 16 and 20 who have become real experts in seeking information, having fun playing online games and interacting with friends through social networks and mobile phones.

Young people who have grown in step with the Internet and new technologies and who probably cannot imagine life without a smartphone in their hands.

The Reina Sofía Center of Adolescence and Youth conducted a survey with 800 young people between 16 and 20, who are active Internet users. The study entitled “Youth in the network: a selfie” (in Spanish) creates a self portrait of young people and how they relate to new technologies.

The data show that half of respondents have frequently felt overwhelmed by the use of new technologies, to the point of needing to withdraw from them. However, 90% of respondents assure that they have at no time felt dependent. They are aware of the risks the Internet and social networks represent – that though they are excellent platforms for interaction they can also be dangerous tools that make lying, public exposure and cyberbullying easier.

Precisely in this regard, 56% believe that online bullying is much more frequent than is reported. Gonzalo Calderon, managing director of the Reina Sofia Center, maintains that “Young people know new technologies and social networks involve some risks, but also have their advantages, and enjoying these compensates for certain dangers”.

As for the time spent on the Internet, 65% of respondents think it is “somewhat excessive” or “clearly excessive”, a percentage that drops to 52% in relation to the use of social networks..

They really like looking at other people’s profiles


Regarding how they use the web, only a quarter of respondents were actively involved in creating content for digital platforms: 26.1% interact in forums and 25.6% have their own website or blog.

The data are different when it comes to searching for information and documentation (92%), resorting to virtual world for fun (86%) or playing online (49%). From these results, there is an interesting fact reflecting that the “Selfie Generation” can have a stalker or voyeur aspect: 81% of those surveyed admit to looking at information profiles, lives and other people’s comments and 74% say they share information and opinions with others.

The research suggests that there are four types of user profiles, depending on the relationship young people have with technology:

  1. Integrated into the network (without huge enthusiasm): They are 26.9%, who deny the direct connection of the Internet with lies and deception, and are not convinced about the loss of privacy and control.
  2. Experienced (who lost their Internet inhibitions): represent 17.5%, are the typical, experienced users, who think that the risks “are exaggerated”.
  3. Technophobes or indifferent: They represent 12% and have a negative and critical view of social networks. They use them seldomly and believe that the associated risks are more frequent than is reported.
  4. Pragmatics (those who sit on the fence): This group makes up 30.1% of the respondents, who accept both the positive and negative aspects of the technology, while worrying “significantly or very much” about becoming dependent on it.

These are profiles that we are surely all familiar with, and that demonstrate, once again, the diversity of the Internet and the different ways of using the technology that is at our fingertips.