A Theological Approach to the Social Problems Associated with the Use of Information and Communications Technologies (ICT)
Sneyder Rojas-Díaz J*
Faculty of Communication, Publicity and Design, Luis Amigó Catholic University, Medellín, Antioquia, Colombia
- *Corresponding Author:
- Sneyder Rojas-Díaz J
Faculty of Communication, Publicity and Design
Luis Amigó Catholic University, Medellín
Tel: +57 (4)4487666
Received date: August 18, 2018; Accepted date: August 27, 2018; Published date: September 05, 2018
Citation: Sneyder Rojas-Díaz J. A Theological Approach to the Social Problems Associated with the Use of Information and Communications Technologies (ICT). Global Media Journal 2018, 16:31.
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Today's world is characterized by the appropriation of Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) in all areas of life. There is much talk of the benefits, but little of the risks of a thoughtless, uncritical and unlimited appropriation of technological advances. Cyberbullying, sexting, nomophobia, cyberdependencies, among others; they are some of the most well-known social problems that affect current generations. Therefore, it is urgent to deepen our knowledge of the problems associated with the use of ICTs and to build from a biblical hermeneutics a theology of technology - cyberteology - that contributes to the formulation of a timely pastoral in this context. The theological approach proposed in this article, takes the advance of other disciplines, but interprets the problems as the manifestation of a technological idolatry - cyberidolatry. To achieve this, biblical principles applied to the technological world are presented, the exegetical model elaborated by José Luis Sicre is adapted on the denunciation of the pre-exilic prophets to the secular idolatry and the manifestation of them is observed in the context of some ecclesial communities. It concludes the presence of the problem in the young population and the feasibility of its study from a biblical, theological and pastoral reference framework.
Communication; Technology; Cybertheology; Practical theology; Social
The development of science, technology and innovation (STI) is an
ongoing priority and its goal is technological appropriation in all
areas of life. To STI are conferred important capacities for showing,
prevent and intervene social problems . In recent years, only in
Colombia, investment for STI development exceeded 18 billion
of Colombian pesos and is projected to increase to 26 billion in
20181, all under the promise of "providing solutions to the great
problems faced by Colombian society"2. It is believed that with
technological appropriation there will be a new human being, for
whom "imperfection, intellectual, corporeal and ethical limits" will
not be present . Information and communication technologies
(ICT) do not escape this mission. Affordability, ubiquity, versatility and diversity are not only admired but desired qualities of ICT
and, as with the STI, and are considered as essential inputs for
However, there is another side of the coin. The dependencies4 to
the internet (cyber dependence) and cell phones (nomophobia
and phubbing), harassment or bullying through social networks
and internet (cyberharassment, cyberbullying), production, dissemination and exchange of sexual content (sexting, online
pornography), online sexual extortion (sextortion), deception and
harassment through false profiles in social networks (grooming),
extortion, theft and identity theft (cyberextortion, phishing,
smishing), among others, are some of the new social problems
for the appropriation of ICT without limits or reflection. Several of
them are unknown by most people although there are a growing
number of cases5. The study of them is scarce with a remarkable
empirical approach and few conclusive works6 .
Despite that there is no abundant academic development in this
setting, the severity of the cases has motivated the execution
of programs aimed at prevention and intervention, in which,
description, and empowerment and social denunciation are the
main actions7. The legislation is scarce for these issues . In
Colombia, for example, only some behaviours are criminalised by
The question resulting from this scenario is: If the ICTs are thought
and developed to generate well-being and progress, why they
cause destruction for the human being today? Tillich would answer
that it is due to the ambiguity of the technique. It "simultaneously
presents its positive and negative aspects, in a confused way and
with the trouble to establish with certainty which of these two
forces is dominating"9. But even if there is such ambiguity, the
balance is more inclined to promote the virtues and possibilities
of the technique than its risks. This has placed the technique and
its discourse - technology in the words of Elull10- in a preponderant
place, full of hopeful affirmations and promises, which generate
immeasurable affections and dedications. Reflecting theologically
on technological appropriation, considering its limitations and
risks, is necessary for a more objective understanding of this
appropriation and generate a humanising equilibrium in which the human being is appreciated and understood with or without
Rather than offering a definitive answer to the ambiguity of ICT,
this theological approach seeks to contribute to the progress
made by specialists in psychology, anthropology and sociology
who have explored ICT phenomena, characteristics, inputs
and possible solutions, with the intention of preventing and
intervening the harmful effects of an indiscriminate, unlimited and
irresponsible technological appropriation11. Although they have
not found consensus on clinical definitions and are not endorsed
by regulatory agencies for their nominations or solutions12,
it is possible to see in them a common mission: to stop the
consequences of inadequate appropriation of technology. This
is in a direct relationship with the understanding of a practical
theology , which must respond to the contemporary demands
and rise from its knowledge pertinent and relevant solutions for
the world of today13. On the other hand, theology, in dialogue and
at service of other disciplines, achieves its function of mediating
between the transcendent and the intransigent, between the
unobjectionable and the object, allowing the church to act in the
human problematic to accomplish with its pastoral mission .
In addition, the theological approach is necessary before the
proposal of humanist prevention and intervention proposed to
ICT problems. Appealing to the modification of behaviour by
means of an individual will as an exit from the technological pit,
dug precisely by the absence of limits and responsible conceptions
of the technological appropriation, is to attribute salvific abilities
to the same suffering individual by the consequences of his wrong
actions. To consider human limitation as a reality of the being in
opposition to the limitless human capacity stated by humanism
opens the possibility to live the redemption executed and
revealed by God. To deny it, reaffirming independence, autonomy
and human potential without contingency, is to leave alone and
adrift those who are destroyed by their inadequate decisions and
actions. Christian theological reflection brings hope in itself since
it announces the salvific mission of God in the person of Jesus
in all areas of life, including the technological one. In doing so,
theology becomes a humanizing agent because it contributes to
the strengthening of the being in relation, giving new insights and
experiences of its finitude and it’s contingency.
In order to fulfill the purpose of this theological approach, it is
necessary to construct a Christian worldview where there are
transverse Biblical principles, to apply a hermeneutic model and
to observe the problems within the ecclesial communities. In
this way, theological reflection, if it has to be presented within
a framework of the Christian understanding of society, involves
the Biblical, the referential and the contextual in order to state
pertinent and transcendental actions. In this way, the see-judgeact
of the Inter-Loci pastoral theological model14 is transcended by the Biblical foundation: we see, judge and act from a Christian
Biblical worldview. Theology is "the commitment made as
God's people to understand the revelation of God in context
for our context"15. The Scriptures provide essential concepts
and references for understanding the contexts in which human
beings live, explaining the implications of human action and
revealing the scope of divine intervention. When applying them
to the reality of ICT, is possible the development of a Biblical
cybertheology16, a theological reflection on Scripture in response
to human transformations in and by ICT.
Biblical Principles across the ICT
Everything is created by God. The Scriptures reveal the creative
act as exclusive, sovereign, generous and self-sufficient on
the part of God. His work comes from nothing (Gen. 1) and is
an expression of His abundant love17. "He is not beholden to
create, creates by himself, moved by love flowing to and from
the interior of the Trinity"18. He performs as a divine initiative
of revealing himself. All his work is an accurate reflection of His
"God’s invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine
nature" (Rom. 1:20). Therefore, the whole creation is essentially
"very good"19, admirable, wonderful (Ps. 139:13-14) because it
comes from a gorgeously perfect, unsullied, almighty God (Ps.
19:1, 33:6, 102:25; Isa. 40:28; Jer. 32:17, 10:12; Rom. 11:36; Heb.
1:10, 3:4; Eph 2:10).
But even creation itself with its greatness and complexity is not
autonomous or self-sufficient. It is sustained and maintained by
His word, wisdom and power (Job 38-40; Am. 4:13; Mat. 10:29-
30; Rom. 11:36; Col. 1:16; Heb. 1:3; 2 Pet. 3:7). He gives and
sustains life. The Biblical conviction of the divine sustainability
of the creation supports the hope not only of its control before
the calamity but also its salvific intervention in it. God is savior
because he is the creator (Job 38-40; Psalm. 121:1-2, 124:8).
Thus, "by emphasizing the power of God over creation, the
man recognizes its finiteness" and emphasizes the need for
intervention before hardship and crisis. To consider the technique
as the result of human effort to solve their problems20 is a source of hope and saving definition that is unfounded. A speech21 away from the natural reality and sustained by the sophistry
of human independence. By contrast, a theology of creation
allows an objective understanding of the human condition and
challenges to understand the relationship between the Creator
and the created22. To consider the divine creation of everything,
regardless of methods, times and forms, is to reaffirm objectively
the very humanity of the human being.
Man and woman, as created beings, share a differential
condition compared to the rest of creation. They are described
as "the image and likeness of God" (Gen. 1:27), an affirmation
that does not reject or modify its materiality, but enhances its
ability to interact with the Creator by making them partakers of
its divine attributes23. Human beings, from a Biblical perspective,
"cannot be thought but in relation to God" 24. This distinction is
accompanied by the giving of the creation for its administration
(Gen. 1:29, 2:15), thus giving man and woman responsibilities
over the created. "The consequences of this delegation of power
are man's dominion over all the works of God's hands"25. The
human being in relation to the Creator is responsible for the
cultivation -development- and care of the created, which was
delivered to him.
Technological advances and ICT are essentially "very good"
because they come "from the Father, from whom all things
come" (1 Cor. 8:6). God gave all the resources created by him
necessary for technological development so that they would
be "cultivated and cared for" by the human being. He gave life
to those who research and develop technologies. He sustained
them, providing them with health, physical and mental capacities
for their realizations, which were not created out of nothing or
stand autonomous or independently. "All other reality is God's
creation and therefore depends on its existence and support"26.
The human being has the power for the transformation and
innovation, but not to create or have the ability to sustain itself
its embodiments. Its power is limited. "Can any one of you by
worrying add a single hour to your life?" Jesus would say in this
regard (Mat. 6:27). It is in this reality that the Pauline assertion
"Everything has been created through him" -meaning God- (Col.
1:16) not only confirms a divine quality directly but also indirectly
alludes to the same finitude and dependence of human beings
before the Creator, whose consistent result is a submissive and
obedient attitude toward the magnificence and divine superiority
(Col. 1: 16b). A humble and objective understanding of human
finitude and contingency triggers recognition of the divine, where
worship and service are natural results and generators of wellbeing.
The opposite is incoherence and motive for the destruction
of their humanity (Rom. 1:20-31).
Everything is corrupted by the idolatrous attitude. Man and woman, as individuals essentially in relation to the Creator
and the created, mold their context, environment and habitat
with their attributions, attitudes and actions. The great rupture
between the perfect, harmonious and "very good" of creation
is human disobedience and rebellion. In the story of Genesis
1, everything obeys the Creator. The light, the firmament, the
earth, the water, the plants and the animals. Everything fulfills
the Word of God. It is, it separates, it produces and it is sustained
by obedience to the divine dictates. But those who are the
"image of God," which bestows powers of freedom and decision,
in the story of Genesis 3, are the only created being capable of
directly disobeying the Creator. With willful ability "man makes
the illusion of wresting from the divinity his prerogatives and
considers God as an antagonist to be fought" 27. By not abiding
the prohibition of eating a certain fruit, which is no more than
the obvious limit for one who has abilities as "the image and
likeness of God," the human being vehemently declares his
independence, autonomy, and self-control of the Creator. By
listening to and supporting the claims of the mythical serpent,
men and women legitimize for them another source of truth,
externalize their appreciations in front of their discourse, show
attitudes of appreciation and purpose and end up exhibiting with
their actions the course of their wrong decisions. In short, the
men and women noted a lie, valued and embraced it, and finally
integrated it into its existence28. Thus, what happened in Genesis
3 is nothing more than the formation of a new god, the human
being, and the beginning of the consequences of such an act. With
the deification of the created enters the death to human reality,
irrefutable consequence of the breakdown of submission to the
Creator29. But death not only subscribes to the individual, it also
broadens its relations with the other and its environment. The
harmonious relationship with his neighbor is now characterized
by imposition and subjugation (Gen. 3:16). The nature, source of
well-being and fulfillment, is now cursed, generating discomfort
and pain (Gen. 3:17).
The manifestations of death and destruction in the current reality
of ICT, where the relations with the other and the environment
are distorted and negatively affected, are symptoms of a problem
greater than that of excessive, unlimited and irresponsible use. It is the evidence of the formation of a god who has been credited
with his salvific discourse, granting him potential beyond his
capacities and limitations and has been given with affection and
commitment every area of contemporary existence. One lives
the consequences of technological divinization. One suffers from
Cyberidolatry: A Hermeneutic Model
The divinization of technology, like that of any object or reality, is
above all the human desire for self-sufficiency and independence.
It is the Edenic idea of pretending to be like God in control of
existence and the future. In this perspective, everything can be
deified because it does not depend on the object or reality itself
but on the subject. Tim Keller states that:
Everything can function as a false god, especially the best things
in this life. We think idols are bad things, but almost never are.
The better they are, the more likely we are to hope they can meet
our deepest needs and desires30.
The human capacity to create idols is sustained by its very
weakness and limitation. Christopher Wright states that "we
have a tendency to value everything that makes us tremble in
wonder when we see our smallness, insignificance, compared
to the great magnitudes that surround us"
The human capacity to create idols is sustained by its very
weakness and limitation. Christopher Wright states that "we
have a tendency to value everything that makes us tremble in
wonder when we see our smallness, insignificance, compared
to the great magnitudes that surround us"31.
The final result is
a secular idolatry as harmful and destructive as the liturgical or
cultic one32, because they "work detrimental to the essence of our
humanity"33, distorting, degrading and reducing human beings34.
However, divinization of objects, such as ICT, dehumanizes even
more the human being. "If we worship what is not God we reduce
the image of God in ourselves. If we worship what is not even
human, we reduce our humanity even more"35.
Divinization of an object is not produced by its holding or
permanent usage. According to Sicre, "the actions are only
idolatrous when they are backed by a deeper attitude that
divinizes earthly reality, placing affection or trust in it"36. Keller
explains that if "something is more important to you than God,
anything that captivates your heart and imagination rather
than God, whatever you expect to provide what only God can
give"37 that is an idol. Idolatrous attitude is to place fear, trust
and affection in an object or reality determined38. It tends to confuse hobby with idolatry, but "idolatry does not lie as much
in the action as in the attitude"39. Being fan of technology, buying
and using the latest technological device, having and using a
profile on a social network, being considered as a "digital native"
does not make someone a cyberidolatrous person. It is when
it considers that everything in its being, affections, relations,
projections and resources, depend and is by and for the ICT. To
the cyberidolatrous the ICT "becomes more fundamental than
God for their happiness, the meaning of life and identity"40.
But idolatry does not remain in the plane of the immaterial
of beliefs, feelings or perceptions; it materializes through
the sacrifices and their victims. Xavier Alegre says "idols are
negatively characterized by the facts that demand the sacrifice
of many victims by people who love them"41. Destruction and
death are consequences of any idolatry because it is intended
to divert from the only true source of life to a false god. Wright
explains that "false gods destroy and devour lives, health and
resources; they distort and limit our humanity; they promote
injustice, greed, perversion, cruelty, lust and violence."42 In this
understanding, God revealing himself as jealous, not only of our
worship but of all spheres of our life, does so out of love for the
human being. Alegre concludes:
The fundamental difference, then, between the God who reveals
the Bible and the idols that the Bible denounces would be found
in the fact that the true God, the God who revealed Himself to
Israel in deliverance from slavery in Egypt and did with He an
alliance in Sinai, he is a God who loves human beings, wants his
Sacrifices and Victims of Cyber-Idolatry
For several authors, the problems associated with the
appropriation of ICTs are due to the early introduction to
the digital world, the excessive promotion of technological
appropriation, the increase in internet access and the permanent
and rapid emergence of new, attractive and versatile technological
developments44. According to Laespada and Estevez, problems
can be classified by the existence of legal and illegal harmful
content on the Internet, by the action of others using ICT, by
scams and frauds supported in electronic and virtual media, by ignorance, recklessness, neglect or combined actions of these
three and the abusive use of ICT45.
Among the risks associated with legal or illegal harmful content is
promotional information anorexia and bulimia. These conditions,
determined by the World Health Organization -WHO- in 2004 as
"the third most common chronic condition among adolescent
girls in the United States after obesity and asthma"46, are open
and legally promoted throughout the internet. A Google search
with acronym "pro ana" -pro anorexia-, "pro mia" -pro bulimia- or
"thinspiration" throw thousands of pages, forums, chats, blogs
and videos dedicated to informing and promoting diet, exercise
and practices to achieve and maintain stereotypes of extreme
thinness under the concept of "lifestyles" and "free development
of personality," using a distinctive language that influences and
motivates millions of young people in the world to destroy their
bodies, lives and families47.
Another of the most prolific legal harmful content in the network
is pornography. According to Oscar Tokumura 30% of internet
traffic in 2006 was pornography, currently generating higher
profits than "Microsoft, Google, Amazon, eBay, Apple and Netflix
together"48. This is one of the more searched content on the
net, around 68 million queries a day, accounting for 25% of all
Google searches. In 2012 there were found about 4.2 million
pornographic sites49 and it is estimated that the sex industry
in the world exceeds 97 billion dollars50. Feelings of anxiety,
power, instant control, excitation and abstinence when people
is restrained from pornography are symptoms to consider it
today as a psychological pathology whose treatment requires a
basic detoxification of at least 10 days, routines and disciplines
to combat stimuli and relapses in consumption51. In the worst
case the medication with drugs for patient recovery is necessary.
There is no legislation against pornography despite the damage
generated by its consumption. It is only illegal if minors participate
in production. Although it is estimated that:
The average age of access to pornography at the global level is
between 6 and 11 years, but there are cases of 4 and 5 years of
age. In the United States the average age of onset in pornography
is 9 years52.
Among the risks by the action of other people53 this category
is the cyberharassment54, harassment to another or others
characterized by the use of different digital media55. "Although
cyberbullying -cyberbullfighting- can be considered as a new form
or subtype of bullying56 -Bullfighting-, the use of electronic means
to commit aggression makes this type of harassment has some
different characteristics"57. In this type, the victim has no rest
from the mockery, offense, discrimination, persecution because
there is no a determined place or time to perform it. It is at all
times, in all places and with all kinds of people who participate as
"aggressors, victims and active or passive spectators"58. Among
the latter, the same family of the victim may be part and this
exacerbates the condition of the affected59. Cyberbullying began
to be treated from 200260. At 2005 Bill Besley coined the term to
refer to the "use technology as a basis for a deliberate, repeated
and hostile behavior developed by an individual or group to
harm others"61. At present, the impact of this phenomenon
is worldwide. Although "some studies in Europe, Mexico and
Brazil indicate that up to 83% of students have dealt in some
way (as actors or spectators)"62 in this practice, in other studies
"has been found that one in four students is involved in this
problem as a victim, an aggressor or both"63. The United Nations
Organization -UN- estimates that 55% of young Latin Americans have suffered cyberbullying64. At October 31, 2015 in Colombia it
was recorded about 9,773 complaints of cyberbullying65. Victims
of cyberbullying experience "sadness, instability, anxiety, feelings
of worthlessness and rejection, sleep and food disturbances,
poor academic performance and desire not to go to school"66.
The life becomes a nightmare for those victims and many end up
One of the practices linked to cybermatoneo is the recording
of attacks where videos of rape, beatings or suicide are made
to spread them through social networks. Although audiovisuals
became evidence and allowed the capture and prosecution of
their perpetrators, they exacerbate the trauma of the victims due
to the popularization of the act. One form of this modality is the
so-called "Happy Beating," which consists of a "preadolescent or
adolescent walking and striking someone, while another person,
also another preteen or teenager, records the aggression with a
phone with built -in camera" 67. This practice of "being cruel to
another person by sending or posting harmful material"68 is a new
nuance of violence, "forms of social aggression using Internet or
other digital technologies"69 highly influenced by the mediation
and the desire to be visible through the media.
Another risk related by action of third parties are theft, scams,
fraud and extortion supported by digital media. It is estimated
that worldwide losses exceed 9,1 billion dollars a year of
virtual identity theft - phishing - in Colombia more than 1,400
crime incidents were reported 70. There is also the mode data
sequestration -ransomware-, which was the most representative
criminal trend 201671. During the last three years in Colombia,
there were 13,774 complaints of theft by computer and similar
media (68%), abusive access to a computer system (13%),
violation of personal data (12%) and other offenses under Law
But risks with ICT are not triggered only externally. There are those given by ignorance, carelessness, negligence or combined actions of these73. Among them is the cyber sexual harassment,
which is the systematic seduction, misleading and manipulated
through social networks, chats, forums and mobile from one
person to another74. Although in most cases can be generated
by an unknown -grooming - there are cases where the harasser
is a person known by the victim75. Alarms against cyber sexual
harassment light up when victims are minors, however, can
also be adults76. In both cases the operation mode is the same.
Usually it happens in three stages: first a contact or friendship
takes place, then begins a relationship based on mutual trust and
finally physical contact occurs, which usually ends up in sexual
abuse77. However, the dynamics of cyber sexual harassment can
also empower sexual extortion -sextortion-, kidnapping, and
trafficking or organs black market. The interest of meeting new
people through the network, establishing friendships or virtual
relationships, marriage promises, and work or travel abroad are
among many the insinuations used in this practice78. An estimated
cyber sexual harasser -or groomer- can have on his network more
than 200 potential victims79, devoting more than 6 months to
gain confidence, esteem and feelings of their victims.
Within the category of reckless use of ICT is the digital selfportrait
-selfie- and sexting. The first is a common practice
among cell phone users and for its excessive use has been
converted according to some research as a generator of "anxiety
disorders and depression in adolescents, especially in women,
who tend to compare their realities with who see in this ideal
world of social networks"80. The self-portrait is currently taking
dimensions and applications unthinkable a few years ago. One
of such contemporary phenomena is the aftersex, a practice of
taking a picture after having sex and then publishes it on social networks, especially Twitter with the hashtag: #aftersex81.
"‹‹Experimenting›› with his personal image, thus contributing to
the construction of identity and self-esteem"82 is the basis for this
practice in young people who do not measure the consequences
of posting pictures of their "sexual conquests" and then become
an input for cyberharassment or cyberextortion.
Parallel to this phenomenon of self-portrait is sexting. It is the
"dissemination or publication of images or videos of a sexual
nature, produced by the sender itself, mainly through the mobile
phone"83. However, production may also be given with video
cameras on computers or tablets. Within the dynamics of sexting
is who produces and sends the video (sexting active) and who
only receives the material (passive sexting)84. Some studies claim
that "older adolescents are more likely to receive sexting. 4% of
12-year-olds have received a message with suggestive images
(nude or semi-nude) of a person they know"85. Among the main
motivations to participate in this practice are
1) The pressure by friends, boyfriends or strangers,
2) The desire to impress other or the group, to which it belongs,
3) Finding a sexual experience,
4) To generate a safe substitute for a sexual relationship,
5) To imitate practices of the group of friends, and
6) To respond to the cultural and sexualized context to which one
In 2012 a Latin American study was published, with the
participation of 3,538 youth. It concluded that "despite being an
increasingly common practice, particularly among young people
-66% have posted photos in their social network insinuating be
naked or being it-"87, 70% of them are unaware of the term. The
study also found that 56% sent erotic content of themselves as a
"sexy gift to your partner" and 40% as a joke of friends. "62% of
sexting practitioners fully trust people who share the contents
of sexting"88. Among the many risks of sexting is possible to
1) A loss of privacy,
2) Personal degradation,
3) Vulnerability to criminal behavior such as grooming,
cyberbullying and sextortion89.
The last three can trigger the victim such a strong pressure that can
take him to suicide90. It is estimated that 70% of cases of sexting
end in blackmail and extortion, 57% damages the reputation,
privacy and image and 61% ends up in child pornography91.
Finally, there are the risks of misuse of ICT, which has shades
ranging from fear, as nomophobia, to dependence and addiction,
such as gambling online, cyberdependence or cyberaddiction.
The nomophobia is a term used from 2012 to define "irrational
fear to leave home without a mobile phone"92. Although there is a
debate in the academic community to consider it as an addiction93,
for many people when cannot "speak through the phone develop
real restlessness, anxiety, irritability, until they could start again,
and for them any call is vital"94. To have physical or visual contact
with the smartphone permanently, to sleep with it, to have the
constant feeling that someone will call, to use it anytime and
anywhere ignoring other when they are close - phubbing - or
while driving, among others, are evidence of a dependence to
the mobile. In the case of use of cell phones while driving, there
is an approximate 37% reduction of concentration on the wheel
and increased up to 70% the risk of an accident95. However, cell
phone use while walking in the street also generates high risk of
injury or death96.
The online gambling refers to gambling addiction, especially to
games of chance, developed through internet portals. Although
pathological gambling is identified clinically97, there are other
recreational types such as videogames that are not. Despite this,
there is already the definition of Internet Gaming Disorder as a
phenomenon to be investigated, which is particularly concerned
with the high levels of impact on young people of multiplayer
online games, "one of the activities that most problems are
causing in the net"98.
In relation to addiction or dependence on the Internet
-cyberaddiction or cyberdependence- there is no consensus among experts about the characteristics and scope of this
problem. There are several definitions, as well as the analysis
of the scope thereof. Catalina García and others perform the
following inventory of terms used by various authors:
The problematic Internet use, abuse, compulsive use, pathological
use, dependence on Internet, poor use or simply Internet
addiction or cyberaddiction, among others. This terminological
profusion demonstrates the difficulty in reaching a consensus on
its meaning and diagnosis99.
Despite this, some specialists are able to determine the existence
of negative consequences in the lives of those with excessive use
of the internet. Loss "in controlling its use, which is symptomatic
of cognitive, behavioral and physiological level events" 
are analyzed elements, complemented by the features in the
"frequency of use, the money invested, the need or compulsion,
as well as the interferences that can cause in the daily life of a
person making him stop complying its obligations"100. Addiction
to Internet and everything that moves in it is a debate to
define despite the undeniable reality of those who suffer its
Based on the above, the presence of harmful, fraudulent and
distorted content; aggressive, cruel and criminal actions; loss of
control, limits and evidence of destruction and death in these
issues; it is possible to ratify the cyberidolatry as a sin in today 's
world. Is a "wrongful act" as defined by Orlando Costas, "any lack
of consideration of the welfare of others, all trampling of human
dignity and all violence of man by man"101. It is a relational sin
because it significantly affects the person and its relationship
to the other102. It is structural because it springs from the
individual and is manifested in the collective103. It is above all a
manifestation of a dehumanization characterized by the rupture
of being in relationship, with himself, with others and with God104.
The cyberidolatry is quietly dehumanizing a generation, which
worships a false, tyrannical and cruel god who hides behind his
flash of beauty and innovation, the physical, familiar, economic
and social hazards of its destructive power.
The Cyberidolatry in the Ecclesial
With the aim to firstly diagnose the consequences of cyberidolatry
in the context of Protestant Christian communities, a random
sample of 161 young people from different churches in different
municipalities of the Aburrá Valley (Bello, Medellín, Itagüí,
Envigado and Sabaneta) was taken. A consultation was made on ownership and use of ICT, participation in social networks, actions
and attitudes with cell phones, church involvement, classroom
activities and profile of respondents that allowed identifying:
1. Youth population in Protestant Christian churches are not
exempt from the social phenomena related to the deification
of the technologies. The technological devices are part of their
life, they get connected for long periods -96% connect daily,
27% does so permanently and 46% by more than two hours.
2. They share and actively participate in social networks (93%),
with an average of 781 contacts in them and only 65% affirmed
to have their parents linked to their virtual communities. They
did not show measures for evaluation of profiles and 50%
affirmed to receive invitations from strangers. These elements
are input to the practice of grooming.
3. 14% claimed to have been a victim of cyberbullying, receiving
messages of mockery, threats, persecution or intimidation
through social network in the last year. 39% declared to know
cases in other people. When asked which their attitude was
when they saw this content, 55% affirmed that they denounced
it and 10% showed to parents and spiritual authorities. Only
2% erased the contents.
4. The nomophobia is a reality in the church’s context. For the
58% the cell phone is first and last thing that sees at day, 25%
always maintains eye contact with it, 11% constantly checks
whether it received calls. 34% sometimes answer a call no
matter where he is and 24% sometimes feel insecure without
the cell. 4% avoid areas of no coverage of the cell signal.
5. In 9% there is evidence of sexting practice. 15% were requested
a sensual photography in the last year, 61% of whom were
women. 25% of requests came from a stranger in a chat, 38%
from a friend in networks, 16% from boyfriends and 3% from
6. 28% of respondents affirmed to be exposed by pornographic content mainly sent by their boyfriends, in the case of women
(42%), and by strangers in chat or social network friends (35%)
in the case of the men.
7. 35% of respondents claimed to know the problems associated
with the use of ICT within the churches, 30% of these claims
come from believers with more than 5 years within the church.
Only 6% identified their pastors and parents are trained on
Technology and ICT are no the savior god of human condition, or
the determining factor in their progress and achievement. They
are simple tools created and given to the welfare and progress
of human beings. They will pass and will cease to be as will do
everything created. They are not worthy of trust, affection and
complete dedication. They are simply “like straw before the wind,
like chaff swept away by a gale" (Job 21:18). To deify it is insane,
baseless and with terrible consequences. Let’s go back to the
giver of life and find in Him the very essence of humanity, one
that is inconceivable without the harmony of relations in every
aspect of life.
When performing the hermeneutical bridge between the
realities described in Scripture and lived today, it is possible to
denounce the destructive presence of cyberidolatry. The way is
therefore, to look again at the highest humanizing expression of
history, the Incarnation of the Word, and from there to have an
understanding of the truth in the technological discourse in order
to bring life back to the context of the technological reality. While
human being in Eden incarnated the lies, in Belen truth became
flesh to redeem mankind.
It remains to live dying to technological gods, dedicating existence
to the search of the one true God and focus life with a humble
and rational conviction that being God, the human being finds
1 Consejo Privado de Competitividad, “Ciencia, Tecnología E Innovación.
Informe Nacional De Competitividad 2015-2016,” October 21, 2015.
3 Cumbre Mundial Sobre La Sociedad De La Información, “Informe
final de la fase de ginebra de la cumbre mundial de la sociedad de la
información”, Documento WSIS- 03/GENEVA/9(Rev.1)-S, Ginebra, 12 de
mayo de 2004, 67.
4 Given the lack of consensus in studies, the term dependence is used
instead of addiction. However, is still recognized the negative impact on
the environment of the individual in academic, social, economic and labor
aspects. J.A. Cruzado Rodríguez, “Adicción a internet: de la hipotética
entidad diagnóstica a la realidad clínica,” Psicopatología Clínica, Legal y
Forense 1 (2001), pp: 93–102.
5DATEXCO, Estudio uso y apropiación de las TIC en Colombia, 2016
6 Pedrero Pérez EJ, Rodríguez Monje MT, Ruiz Sánchez de León
JM "Adicción o abuso del teléfono móvil. Revisión de la literatura".
Adicciones 24/2, (2012) 139–152.
7 One of the most developed programs in the prevention of these
problems in Spanish is called “PantallasAmigas", whose mission is "to
promote the safe and healthy use of new technologies and the promotion
of responsible digital citizenship in childhood and adolescence" (http://
www.pantallasamigas.net). In Colombia is the program "EnTicConfío"
from the Ministry of Information Technologies and Communications
(http://www.enticconfio.gov.co), which is based mostly in the developed
content of PantallasAmigas.
8 The Law 1273/2009 typified some actions related to the handling
of personal data as crimes, with the purpose of safeguarding and
preventing the use of personal data in contexts mainly business,
economic and political. However, phenomena such as grooming, sexting
and cyberbullying, which have a great impact on the young population,
do not have a legal framework for judging those responsible.
9R. Niño de Zepeda Gumucio, “La ambigüedad de la técnica. Comprensión
de la técnica en la perspectiva de su ambigüedad, en la teología de la
mediación de Paul Tillich”, en Teologia y Vida 54 (2013), ss. 487–507.
10 The perceptions, definitions or even emotions generated by a
particular technique is what Ellul would call technology. Pieter Tijmes in
its analysis of Jacques Ellul work, synthesizes as follows “the technology
is the logos of the speech about technique”. P. Tijmes, “Jacques Ellul,
entre el pesimismo sociológico y la esperanza bíblica”, en Boletín CFS ,
no. 37 (2002): 7
11 Laespada MT, Estevez A, Existen las adicciones sin sustancias?,
13 Vigueras Cherres A, “La teología práctica de karl Rahner: Una teología pastoral en perspectiva escatológica”, en Teología y Vida 51 (2010), ss.
Bacher Martínez C (2012). “Nos habla en el camino. Consideraciones preliminares en torno al sujeto, objeto y método de una Teología Pastoral
Inter Loci”, en Teologia y Vida, 53, 307–323
15 Salinas D, “Teologías Latinoamericanas”, Paper presented at:
Teologías Latinoamericanas, Fundación Universitaria Seminario Bíblico
de Colombia, September 22, 2016.
16 Spadaro A , Ciberteología. Pensar el cristianismo en tiempos de la red.,
17 D. Del Salto, Teología de la creación. Fundamentos e implicaciones
para la iglesia, (Medellín, 2011), 2.
18 Del Salto, Teología…, 2.
19 The antimythical essay of Génesis (T. Donner, El texto que interpreta
al lector: una exposición de la Biblia, (Medellín: Publicaciones FUSBC,
2009), 34) has not just the particularity of answering to the challenges of
Mesopotamian myths -and the present ones- about the origin of nature
and human being but also to qualify the creation. It has 7 times -the same
number as the number of days- the adjective "good" and ends by saying
that the Creator himself "felt very good" when he saw the conclusion of
his work (Gen. 1:31) or "exceedingly good" (LBA).
20D.C. Schuurman, “Formando una Visión Cristiana de la Tecnología
Informática”, en Journal of the Association of Christians in the Mathematical Sciences ACMS (2007), ss. 1–11.
21Tijmes, Jacques Ellul…, 7.
22Del Salto, Teología… , 3
23Lona, Qué es el hombre?, 106.
24Lona, Qué es el hombre?,, 100.
25Lona, Qué es el hombre?, 107.
26Del Salto, 2.
27G. Ravasi, Guía espiritual del AntiguoTestamento, (Barcelona, 1992)
28These three elements, attribution, attitudes and actions are part of
the work of Jose Luis Sicre, who defines a process of deification and noncultic
or secular idolatry of the prophets in the Old Testament. To analyze
the secular idolatry Sicre made a "scheme made of five factors. The
god, his gifts, idolatrous attitude, idolatrous actions and victims". The
god, as a purely human construct, is credited falsely benefits or powers
that motivate idolatrous attitudes and actions to eventually trigger
"sacrifices", worship offerings and delivery, or victims. Sicre explains his
model observing the worship of Baal: "This scheme is not preconceived
and arbitrary. You get to it taking into account a number of idolatrous
cults widespread in ancient Israel, especially Baal worship. In the latter,
for example, it is warned the existence of a god (Baal), who offers to
give gifts (wheat, wool, linen, water) when the man adopts before him
an attitude (love, follow) and performs some actions (sacrifices, sacred
prostitution, pleas); this cult often involves some victims (oxen, cows)".
J.L. Sicre, Los dioses olvidados. Poder y riqueza en los profetas preexílicos,
29Lona, Qué es el hombre?..., 119.
30T. Keller, Dioses que fallan. Las promesas vaías del dinero, el sexo y el
poder, y la única esperanza verdadera, (Madrid, Publicaciones Andamio,
31C. Wright, La Misión de Dios, (Buenos Aires: Certeza Unida, 2009), 222.
32The denouncement of the construction of secular gods in Scripture is
evident in the Old Testament prophets. Based on their study, José Luis
Sicre deepens into the secular idolatrous reality and contemplates the
profound implications and consequences, independent of the forms of
33Wright, La Misión…, 224.
34Wright, La Misión…, 226.
35Wright, La Misión…, 225.
36Sicre, Los dioses olvidados, 96.
37Keller, Dioses que fallan, 8.
38Sicre defines fear as that feeling of anxiety in the event of losing or
not having that object. Trust as "when God ceases to be the only point
39Sicre, Los dioses olvidados…, 50.
40Keller, Dioses que fallan…, 10.
41X. Alegre, “Por qué la Biblia presenta a Dios como teniendo celos de los
ídolos? Una aproximación a la idolatría ayer y hoy, desde la perspectiva
bíblica”, en Revista Latinoamericana de Teología (2012), 221
42Wright, La Misión…, 226
43X. Alegre, Una aproximación a la idolatría…, 224
44Laespada y Estevez, Existen las adicciones…, 88.
45Laespada y Estevez, Existen las adicciones…, 119.
46Organización Mundial de la Salud, Prevención de los trastornos
mentales. (Ginebra: 2004), 10, http://www.who.int/mental_health/
47B. G. Bermejo, L. Ángel Saúl y C. Jenaro, “La anorexia y la bulimia en la
red: ana y mia dos ‘malas compañías’ para las jóvenes de hoy”, en Acción
Psicológica, n.º 8 (2011): 73.
48Ó. Tokumura, La Pornografía Online, Una Nueva Adicción, (Madrid:
VOZdePAPEL, 2015), 75.
49Tokumura, La pornografía…, 44.
50A. Luna, “Una pareja bien avenida: el porno en internet no entiende
de crisis”, elconfidencial.com, http://www.elconfidencial.com/
entiende-de-crisis_769607/, último acceso 7 de octubre de 2016..
51Tokumura, La pornografía…, 66.
52Tokumura, La pornografía…, 13.
53Laespada y Estévez, Existen Las Adicciones…, 119.
54A. I. Rincón Rueda y W. D. Ávila Díaz, “Simbiosis vital para describir
el ciberbullying en Colombia” en Revista Científica General José
María Córdova, n.º 12 (2014): 150. It also calls it "electronic bullying,
online bullying, e-bullying, online harassment, cybernetic bullying,
cyberstalking, online social cruelty, or cyber bullying".
55G. G. Maldonado, V. M. Joffre Velásquez, G. J. Martínez Salazar y A.
Llanes Castillo, “Ciberbullying: Forma Virtual De Intimidación Escolar”,
Revista Colombiana de Psiquiatría, n.º 40 (2011): 116. They state that
according to Smith et al. they divide cyberbullying into seven subtypes:
text messages received on the mobile phone; photographs or videos made
with the cameras of the mobiles, and later used to threaten the victim;
harassing calls to the mobile phone; insulting or threatening emails; chat
rooms in which there is an attack or social exclusion against one of the
participants; harassment through instant messaging programs; and web
pages where the victim is defamed, personal information is downloaded
to the network or contests are made where the others are ridiculed.
56M.A Campbell, “Cyberbullying: An old problem in a new guise?”, Australian
Journal of Guidance and Counselling, n.º 15 (2005): 69.
57S. Buelga, M. J. Cava, y G. Musitu, “Cyberbullying: victimización entre
adolescentes a través del teléfono móvil y de internet”, en Psicothema,
n.º 22 (2010): 785.
58G. Cárdenas Guzmán, “Ciberacoso”, en Revista Cómo Ves?, n.º 197
59Pantallas Amigas, “El ciberbullying, cosa de ex-amigos“, ciberbullying.
cosa-de-ex-amigos/, último acceso 7 de octubre de 2016.
60Cárdenas, Ciberacoso…, 12
61L. M. Velázquez Reyes, “Sexting, sexcasting, sextorsión, grooming y
cyberbullyng. El lado oscuro de las TICs”, (ponencia, XI Congreso Nacional
de Investigación Educativa. Convivencia, Disciplina y Violencias en las
2011, Instituto Superior de Ciencias del Estado de México, 2011), 8.
62Cárdenas, Ciberacoso…, 12.
63Cárdenas, Ciberacoso…, 13.
64Ministerio de las Tecnologías de la Información y Comunicación,
“El 55% de los jóvenes latinoamericanos han sido víctimas de Ciberacoso
según la ONU”, Mintic.gov.co., http://www.mintic.gov.co/portal/604/w3-
article-2757.html, last accesed: October 7, 2016.
65Te Protejo, “Informe al 31 de octubre de 2015”, teprotejo.org, http://
www.teprotejo.org/index.php/es/logros-2015, last accesed: October 7,
66A. Mera, “El ciberacoso, un fenómeno que crece a la velocidad de la
internet”, elpais.com.co, http://www.elpais.com.co/elpais/cali/noticias/
ciberacoso-fenomeno-crece-velocidad-internet, last accesed: October
67Rincón y Ávila, Simbiosis Vital…, 156.
6868 Velázquez, Sexting, Sexcasting…, 2.
69Velázquez, Sexting, Sexcasting…, 2
70Cámara Colombiana de Informática y Telecomunicaciones, El
Centro Cibernético de la Policia Nacional y la CCIT presentaron el Primer
Informe sobre el Cibercrimen en Colombia, 31 de Marzo de 2017, http://
primer-informe-cibercrimen-colombia/, last accesed: June
71Kaspersky Lab, Consumer security risks survey 2016, (2016)
72Policia Nacional, Amenazas del cibercrimen en Colombia 2016-2017, (2017)
73Laespada y Estevez, Existen las adicciones…, 119.
74S. Tejedor y C. Pulido, “Retos y riesgos del uso de Internet por parte
de los menores. cómo empoderarlos?” en Comunicar n.º 20 (2012): 67.
75Tejedor, “Retos y riesgos”, 69
76survivorsmanchester.org.uk, “Grooming”, survivorsmanchester.org.uk,
último acceso octubre 7 de 2016.
7777INTECO, Guía legal sobre ciberbullying y grooming,
(Madrid, 2009), 12, https://www.educacion.navarra.es/
78La Capital, “El rapto de una chica de 15 años alerta el peligro
que encierran las redes sociales”, lacapital.com.ar, http://www.
encierran-las-redes-sociales-n494289.html, last accesed:
October 7, 2016.
79Pantallas Amigas, “El ciberbullying, uno de los principales
riesgos para los niños en Internet, según investigadores de
UNICEF”, ciberbullying.com, http://www.ciberbullying.com/
last accesed: October 7, 2016.
80Diario ADN, “‘Selfie’ o autorretrato en redes: el riesgo de
trastorno de apariencia”, diarioadn.co, http://diarioadn.co/vida/
último acceso octubre 7 de 2016.
81Red.es, Monográfico Sexting, (Madrid: Gobierno de España, 2015), 10.
82Red.es, Monográfico…, 12
83Red.es, Monográfico…, 4.
84Red.es, Monográfico…, 4.
85Velázquez, Sexting, Sexcasting…, 8.
86Red.es, Monográfico, p. 7.
87eCGlobal Solutions, Pantallas Amigas, eCMetrics y CLIPS, “Sexting
en américa latina. una amenaza desconocida”, (2013): 2, http://
88eCGlobal Solutions, Sexting…, 9
89M. I. Fajardo Caldera, M. Gordillo Hernández, y A. B. Regalado
Cuenca, “Sexting: nuevos usos de la tecnología y la sexualidad en
adolescentes”, International Journal of Developmental and Educational
Psychology 1, (2013): 522. They define sextortion as "the blackmail that a person (elder or minor) performs to another through the use of
messages, photos or videos that the victim has generated, threatening to
publish, to obtain some benefit," economic or sexual .
90Jessica “Jesse” Logan (2008), Amanda Todd (2012) and Tiziana Cantone
(2016) are, among others, the most worldwide recognized cases of
suicide. They all were victims of cyberharassment produced by an initial
practice of sexting.
91eCGlobal Solutions, Sexting…, 20.
92V. García Martínez y A. M. Fabila Echauri, “Nomofilia vs. Nomofobia,
irrupción del teléfono móvil en las dimensiones de vida de los jóvenes.
Un tema pendiente para los estudios en comunicación”, Razón Y Palabra,
n.º 86 (2014): 3.
93Laespada y Estévez, Existen las adicciones, 82.
94Pérez y Martín, Nuevas Adicciones, 15.
95D. Agüero, G. Almeida, M. Espitia, A. Flores, y H. Espig, “Uso del
teléfono celular como distractor en la conducción de automóviles”, Salus
n.º 18 (2014): 7.
96E. Cano, “La mayoría de jóvenes cruza la calle hablando por el móvil”, abc.es,
calle-hablando-movil-201511020255_noticia.html, last accesed: October
97Laespada y Estévez, Existen Las Adicciones?..., 14.
98Laespada y Estévez, Existen Las Adicciones?..., 24.
99C. García, M. C. López de Ayala, y A. García. “Los riesgos de los
adolescentes en Internet: los menores como actores y víctimas de los
peligros de internet”, Revista Latina de Comunicación Social, n.º69,
100García, Adicciones…, 6 6.
101O. Costas, “Pecado y Salvación en América Latina”, (ponencia,
América Latina y La Evangelización en Los Años 80, Fraternidad Teológica
Latinoamericana, 1981), 272.
102Costas, Pecado y Salvación…, 271.
103Costas, Pecado y Salvación…, 274.
104Costas, Pecado y Salvación…, 273.
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