Digital Media, the New “Drug” for Children

Manfred Spitzer, German professor, director of the Department of Psychiatry at the University Hospital of Ulm and the Center for Transfer of Neurosciences and Learning, argues that digital media (computers, tablets and smartphones) “do not increase academic learning capacity, but rather the opposite.” In his opinion, they can have a negative impact on the brain’s learning processes and cause both physical and psychological, pathological disorders.  “Children get used to focusing their attention on screens, outsourcing their brain processes of information gathering, reducing their retention and memorization capacity, causing them to learn less.” “It’s logical,” he says, “because if they use a pocket calculator or a translator, for example, they don’t develop the mental processes necessary to learn arithmetic or a language properly.”

According to the investigation’s results, parents, teachers and politicians are asked for a deep reflection on the pedagogical usefulness, or assitance to learning, of these resources and their risks, which are physical as well. The Spanish medical associations have defined all of this abuse as a new addiction to digital media like any other drug. These new “drugs” are a test of the fragility of the human mind. Because our eight million-year-old genetics developed within nature, with rewards coming from our environment and interrelation in small groups, but today, we have become emotionally deprogrammed from them.

In his latest work, “Cyber Disease,” Spitzer warns that abusing screens makes children “fatter and nearsighted.” It also deprives them of rest, since exposure to screens in the hours before sleep creates a decrease in melatonin secretion and resets their circadian rhythm, “which causes them to wake up tired in the morning.”

When we use them at bedtime, our screens’ blue light, is interpreted by the brain as being daylight and, in addition, corrodes the essential melatonin for tissue repair mechanisms and sleep. One teenager declares that he lost his phone for two days and had two hundred messages, an addict to a new drug genre.

As for the adverse effects on the psychological level, experts talk about attention disorders, stress and depression. A recent British study indicates that 13-year-old girls who spend more than three hours a day on Facebook are twice as likely to suffer from depression five years later. In light of these risks, it is worth asking why educational leaders continue to promote the use of digital devices. Spitzer is blunt: “because of commercial pressures, since they bombard us with messages about the benefits of their products and make us addicted.”

Real World Isolation 

In Spain, a more worrying fact is that, 22% are extreme Internet users, meaning they spend more than six hours connected on weekdays, which not only leaves them little time for other activities such as sports, outings with friends or studying and reading, but it also negatively impacts our sedentary lives. The time for reading, thinking and distractions according to our biological nature is running out!

In South Korea, the country with the greatest penetration of these devices, they know it well. According to data from the Ministry of Science, 30% of those between 10 and 19 are addicted to their smartphones. A similar phenomenon is that of Japanese hikikomoris (secluded “hermits”), who isolate themselves from the real world in their rooms, permanently connected to the internet. Quite a few of them end up being hospitalized or frequent technology detoxification camps.

The analysis has indicated that inappropriate or excessive use among adolescents “can present problems of aggressiveness, anxiety, depression, sleep disorders and, in some cases, social isolation,” according to Raquel Muñoz, principal investigator of the study. The results have been obtained from studies carried out during the 2010-2011 academic year in 28 schools in the Vallés Occidental with 5,538 students between 12 and 20 years old in participation.

Taking a sample of our emotional state: what motivates us and of our lack of objectives for the development of our own personalies present in the world in which we live, what causes the emotional vacuum that hinders the management of personal time in the direction of health, culture, well-being and development of a person? These are symptoms of the simplifying trend of our civilization, where new technologies do the rest. 16% of Spaniards declare themselves openly extremist, demonstrating that trash television produces, facilitates and stimulates this situation and increases the interest to have emotionally altered and exalted voters for certain political parties. Due to all of this, no author has reason to dare to write, their readers will not have the time to devote to such a book. The functions of the pre-frontal portions in the brain are to anticipate and plan for the future. When these gadgets are constantly used since childhood, is is possible for the cerebral lobes to remain completely undeveloped.


José Antonio Rodríguez Piedrabuena 
Specialist in Psychiatry and Psychoanalysis

Artificial Intelligence, A Key Element among the 50 Most Innovative Companies

For innovative companies, the current landscape is still marked by the growing importance of digital technology. In particular, a new BCG report entitled The Most Innovative Companies 2019: The Rise of AI, Platforms, and Ecosystems, reveals that companies that excel in innovation increasingly implement more AI tools to develop new products and services, and improve internal innovation. In addition, they create technological platforms and ecosystems that allow them to take advantage of external innovation sources.

“Digital technology and external innovation have become key factors,” says Ramón Baeza, BCG’s Senior Partner and co-author of the report. “The main challenge for companies will not be to identify and access cutting-edge technological development, which will have to be sought outside of organizations, but to implement that technology within the company itself, integrating it with existing processes.”

As the main conclusion of the report, companies agree that the application of artificial intelligence in their processes is gaining ground. 90% of respondents (2,500 senior managers in the innovation area) stated that their companies are investing in AI, more than 30% expect AI to be one of the innovation areas with the greatest impact on their business during the next three or five years and another 30% give AI a leading role in their respective innovation programs.

The report shows that there is a big difference in the skills that companies have in terms of AI. More than 65% of the so-called “strong” innovators claim to be above the average in this area, compared to the mere 2% of “weak” innovators. Nearly 20% of respondents consider their companies to be “strong” innovators and exceed the average in terms of AI (a group that the report calls “leaders” in IA). Among these leaders, 94% believe that AI is important for the future growth of their companies, compared to 56% of “laggards” (respondents who consider that the capacities of their companies in AI are below the average).

AI will have a substantial impact on business processes, but its greatest potential lies in its ability to develop new products and services that provide large revenue streams over time,” says Michael Ringel, BCG Senior Partner and co-author Of the report. He also affirms that “the ‘leaders’ in AI are already making their way,” noting that, in these companies, the products and services based on AI solutions introduced in the last three years had meant a much higher percentage of sales.

Some 46% of “leaders” in AI declare that products and services based on AI tools represented 16% or more of their sales, compared to a mere 10% among “laggards”. Both agree that AI will gain ground in the future: 54% of “leaders” and 22% of “laggards” expect that AI enhanced products and services will contribute more than 16% of sales in the next five years.

Great Innovators Take Advantage of External Resources

The increasing use of AI is one of the factors that have fueled interest in platforms and ecosystems. The “leaders” in AI claim that they are more likely to turn to external providers for their AI projects. Moreover, some 36% depend entirely on external suppliers and another 48% mainly uses external services or a combination of internal and external capacities. This approach may be helping “leaders” to travel quickly through the AI learning experience curve, since knowledge is still scarce at present.

This year’s report shows that companies increasingly look abroad in search of new ideas. Collaboration models are booming: between 2015 and 2018 the number of great innovators using incubators grew (from 59% to 75%), as well as collaboration in the academic realm (from 60% to 81%) and in business (from 65% to 83%).

“Digital technologies facilitate collaboration platforms and these in turn enable ecosystems that bring together a group of organizations to develop new capacities or offer new products or services, even to promote a new field of science or technology,” says Florian Grassl , BCG Partner and co-author of the report. “However, not all ecosystems are the same. Participants are united by different types of incentives/interests. Of course, one of them is financial, but the knowledge, data, skills and community can be equally important.”

Some ecosystems are mere extensions of traditional ways of organizing and doing business. They tend to revolve around an orchestrator with whom all other participants interact and have established hierarchies and structures. Other ecosystems, including many of those involved in the first phase of R&D, tend to be more dynamic. They depend less on a central orchestrator and more on versatile interactions among the participants.

Since 2004, the Boston Consulting Group has surveyed the top managers of the innovation area from a wide range of sectors and countries on 13 occasions in order to better understand the role and status of innovation in companies.

With the ranking of the 50 most innovative companies, for the first time there have been notable movements in the first five positions on the list. Following the global survey, Apple, which led the ranking in all previous editions, descended to third place, while Google (or its parent, Alphabet) and Amazon rose to first and second place respectively. At the remainder of the top 5 table were Microsoft and Samsung.

Although technology companies occupy nine of the top ten, conventional companies account for more than half the list. Adidas (10th), BASF (12th), Johnson & Johnson (14th) and DowDuPont (15th) are among the top 15 and there are newcomers such as T-Mobile (13th), DowDuPont, Stryker (35th) and Rio Tinto (49th).

Innovative Trends in the Field of Communication

Juan de los Ángeles, founder and director of C4E, shared with the Proa Comunicación team current trends in the field of communication. During a session of inspiration, De los Ángeles underlined the importance of innovation and creativity in devising company strategy, as business become increasingly aware of what is currently driving the market and attracting consumers.

De los Ángeles highlighted the relevance for companies in any sector of being aware of the latest trends to be able to anticipate changes and meet the increasingly demanding demands of their customers. Today innovation is the best tool, also in the field of communication, to continue to improve and offer the market products and services with a clear demand for them.

In his presentation, Juan de los Ángeles reviewed the main trends that mark the evolution of advertising campaigns and communication strategies of companies such as “the power of the ‘mini versus the maxi'” and the application of technology to consumption.