Internet addiction is threatening more and more young people

Mobile phone instead of tobacco: addiction risk from internet use
In Germany, more and more people are affected by online addiction. Children and young people in particular are at risk. At a congress in Berlin, hundreds of experts deal with addiction therapy, prevention and research.

And the smartphone always attracts
Chatting with friends, surfing the Internet, playing, shopping or even looking for a partner for life: For many people, the smartphone has become an integral part of everyday life. The devices make our lives easier in many areas, but they also pose health risks. For example, nearsightedness increases due to constant smartphone use. And they can make you addicted: The risk of cell phone addiction is particularly high among young people.

Hundreds of experts at the German Addiction Congress
According to experts, parents too rarely perceive an excessive use of the internet by young people as a problem. In a message from the dpa news agency, Professor Falk Kiefer from the German Society for Addiction Research and Addiction Therapy said: “You have to raise awareness that online games and social networks can be highly binding. Young people come into contact with potentially addictive behavior earlier and earlier. "

Kiefer heads the German Addiction Congress in Berlin, which brings together 600 addiction experts. Internet addiction is one of the focal points this year. Negative trends would also be observed for illegal drugs. On the other hand, smoking is less of a problem for young people today. Around 20 million people in Germany are addicted - to alcohol, tobacco, gambling, drugs or the Internet.

Not officially recognized as a disease
According to a study carried out on behalf of the Federal Ministry of Health in 2011, more than 560,000 people in Germany are considered to be internet-dependent. Four percent of the 14 to 16 year olds are affected, girls a little more often than boys. A rising trend is assumed.

So far, internet addiction has not been officially recognized as a disease by the cost bearers, but experts as well as the federal drug commissioner Marlene Mortler (CSU) consider the demand for a diagnosis to be justified. In an older communication, she explained that the federal government is developing new forms of addiction, such as Have an eye on computer game and internet addiction. "I want to offer more information and help the people affected," Mortler said.

Internet addiction criteria
According to dpa, Kiefer explained: "The earlier internet-based games and media are available for young people and move into the children's room, the more the numbers can be expected to increase." There is great uncertainty among parents because there are no standards for internet use.

The question of where the line between normal use and addiction runs on the Internet is often not so easy to answer. Basically, the criteria for internet addiction are similar to those for alcohol or drug addiction. But it is not the time in front of the screen that matters.

When teenagers wear off in school
In a study, researchers from the United States found that Facebook or Twitter can be as addictive as cocaine. According to experts, addicts experience strong negative consequences from online games or surfing on social networks, which they accept or hide as fixed.

For example, they slacken at school, withdraw from family and friends and lose control, explained Kiefer: "It usually doesn't work to turn the computer off after an hour."

Those affected often seek help late
According to the doctor, unlike alcohol, there were no effects such as drunkenness that draw the attention of the environment to the problem. This is why young people and their parents often come to counseling centers late. Kiefer hopes that more affected people will seek help early on: “You can have problematic behavior at times, but it doesn't have to get into an addiction. It is crucial to talk to those affected early on and to negotiate limits. ”

If teenagers noticed that they cannot keep their own resolutions such as a certain amount of play per day, this is an approach to get into conversation. It is crucial that the change in behavior is not prescribed, but understandable and associated with positive consequences. (ad)

Author and source information

Video: Inside South Koreas internet addiction camps. Newsround Special (October 2021).