That is to say

Internet Addiction of the New Generations (Part One)

Brainstorming between Maria Teresa De Donato and Giovanni Tommasini

Backyards that only house cars and cats. Once upon a time, they were full of little girls and boys who, depending on the case, carefreely played hide and seek, played football with pots or dolls, rode bicycles, and climbed walls and trees.

What happened to them?

Of course, those who, like many of us, belong to the Baby Boomer generation have long been engaged in something completely different, if not on the verge of retirement. But today’s children? Where am I? How do they spend their free time when they are not at school or busy doing homework?

As we will see, the answer to these questions is anything but reassuring.

Hi Giovanni, today, to inaugurate our new column, we will address a topic of significant public interest, namely that of the dependencies on modern technology of the new generations.

In 2002, returning to Italy to visit my family after many years of absence, I was invited by some people who have known me more or less since birth to have a coffee, which I gladly accepted because many of them have always been an extension of my family.

Some of them told me: “Maria Teresa, this garden is a cry. Times have changed a lot since you were little, and now there are only cars and cats in the yard.”

“Where are the kids?” – I asked, somewhat surprised.

“They don’t come down to the garden anymore. The answer was that they’re all holed up at home spending their time playing video games!”.

Thinking that millions of children worldwide are deprived of the opportunity to regularly play every day outdoors, in the sun, in the wind, in contact with nature, and years of carefree is not only depressing but equally alarming, don’t you think Giovanni?

Indeed, Maria Teresa. I completely agree with you. I also experienced a similar situation a few years ago.

A question from my son, on an ordinary day, pierced that veil of unawareness that hovered inside me, and I suddenly felt a new fear growing over time: that our children would remain trapped in the web.

Would you like to tell us how exactly things went in your case?

We were having lunch on the beautiful restaurant terrace in the countryside, among the hills of Genoa—the nature around us and the sea in front. Everything seemed just to be enjoyed and admired. My son, just turned five years old, turning to me with a pleading look, said:

«Dad, will you connect me?».

It took several questions before I understood what he meant. While waiting to start first grade, he was with his parents, surrounded by nature and with the sea in his eyes.

What more could he want?

While I felt in complete contact with all the expressions of the world, something was evidently missing for my son to perceive himself as wholly immersed in reality.

He needed the connection.

I intuited, then, what I fully understood later. A new vision of life was born, based on the feelings of teenagers in the post-superfluous era: nothing is necessary anymore. Everything is reachable at any age.

The questions full of curiosity that children asked until a few years ago are now just a click away. The hero dad, with his formative responses, is no longer needed.

Just ask Google.

Struck by a mass of questions, I’ve come to wonder if, every time they connect online, they risk disconnecting from reality…

What did your questions lead to?

To write a book. Thoughts and questions about Millennials: the writing of a worried father. A comparison between the teenagers of the 1980s, the first generation without war, and today’s children, who grew up in front of a screen: DAD WILL YOU CONNECT ME?: The perennial connection and the future of the new generations, who are being born, growing up, and living without the Other.

MTDD: What are the purposes of this publication, and how can it practically help families and children, without prejudice to the fact that in the case of children, at least up to 10-12 years of age, perhaps parents should exercise greater control over the ‘use and consumption of modern technologies?

Yes, Maria Teresa, I agree. In many cases, greater parental control is needed.

In this book, I outline a path that brings children’s gaze back to the magic of the inner world. What will become of them if, as is now evident, they grow up forgetting the fertilizing function of the other, so fundamental for constructing the self and the surrounding reality?

My invitation to reflection is intended as a starting point. Everyone will choose which aspect to emphasize. On the web, even in reality, it is possible to double-click on the words and embark on a journey to open up new horizons. In a stubborn search for authentic relationships anchored in space-time memories, my invitation to realize a planning vision of life moves. Glances and words are waiting for us outside the labyrinth of the web. We have to lift our eyes and listen.

Indeed. Many of the themes we have mentioned, starting with the importance of connecting with one’s inner world and acquiring greater awareness of who we are and how to realize our human potential, are also aspects that I analyzed in the chapter The Hypnotic State of Mankind ( = The hypnotic state of Humanity) of my book DARE To RISE – Reshaping Humanity by Reshaping Yourself (= DARE TO RAISE YOURSELF – Reshape Humanity by Reshaping Yourself), for those who want to delve deeper into the topic, written together with a friend and fellow author Denis Gorce-Bourge.

What, in your opinion, are the main damages that addiction to the web, video games, social media, and the Internet in general causes to children?

Our children, who grew up with a video in front of them and us on the other side, cannot do without the web. We are passive spectators of a new reality, which is difficult to understand and accept as parents born in the last century. If we make an effort, however, to find a meeting point, we can maintain the connection with a generation that chooses models and myths from new media.

For today’s kids, that terrace, so enchanting, suspended between the sea and the mountains, is nothing more than a place like any other from which to connect, glue themselves to a video, and get lost in a virtual world devoid of space-time references. The reality that we parents, digital immigrants, and children of previous years have grown up has been supplanted by a world that isolates and cancels contacts.

Like many parents, you too have asked yourself questions such as: What to do? What future awaits us? What response should you give to your child who asks to be connected?

Is there a practical solution that can change this reality or at least help our children and teenagers not to grow up isolated, replacing the real world with the virtual one with all the consequences of the case?

A profound reflection on the online drift that has overwhelmed us seems necessary.

And that day, I found an answer. I looked at the horizon behind my child with only one thought: let’s take back the lives of our kids.

This brief discussion was born as a letter from a father who was very worried about his son’s relationships, primarily digital. I will support and argue the need for triple AAA and human relationships. I’m not talking about abstract parameters but about peculiarities that must correspond to each other:




it is the greatest gift you can give to another person.

Denis Waitley



courage is also what it takes to sit down

Sir Winston Churchill



Many people never listen.

Ernest Hemingway

For those who need to become more familiar with your business and publications, could you elaborate on these concepts?

Gladly. There are three legs of a relational table that are equally fundamental for the structure to sustain itself. All it takes is for one of the characteristics to be missing to compromise the relationship and nullify the possibility of coming into contact with oneself and others.

Today, more than ever, in fact, there is a need to start evaluating, proposing, and demanding reciprocity of ties again. Every sector of daily life is based on the request and verification of this pattern.

In fact, before entering into a relationship with another person, the only way to know their reliability is to ask for an evaluation. Participants in economic negotiations always evaluate the rating of the contractor, his stability, and his value. It’s not just companies and banks that are adopting this verification system. Each of us, before committing to a relationship, analyzes some data. These are necessary steps to establish a triple AAA relationship.

Can we give some examples?

Sure. Let’s take into consideration the world of finance. Before engaging in an adventure with another person, any entity conducts an in-depth analysis based on the relationship (Welcoming), the collection of information, and the study of the collected material (Attention).

The managers then meet and call meetings (Listening). Ultimately, they judge the subject’s reliability (the other). The level of risk expected for the newly established relationship is defined with a letter grade. Proceeding in this way, step by step, the person requesting the evaluation arrives at the final decision and decides whether to get involved and invest resources.

Social relationships can be considered with the same parameters. The three AAAs represent a series of attitudes that, if ensured consistently, increase the quality of every human relationship.

Welcoming, Attention, and Listening are fundamental to bringing the new generations offline and convincing them to take their eyes off the screen.

The revelation of an emotional world in which contact with others represents a gift is the only hope for restoring value to life and interpersonal relationships.

I write these thoughts, therefore, as an appeal to my son to reverse course and re-emerge from a cave that is no longer that of Plato’s myth but the dark and solitary cave of the virtual world. I hope you will begin to immerse yourself again, through all five senses, in the reality that we children of the pre-connection years have, fortunately, fully experienced.

The concepts linked to Reception, Attention, and Listening deserve further investigation. We, therefore, leave everything to the Second Part of our interview.

Yes, there are many aspects to clarify. We hope that readers find this information interesting and valuable and that they follow us in reading our future articles.