Experts warn: “This is the drug of the future for children”

Hochsauerland district.
Not alcohol or tobacco: A study of young people’s drug addiction shows what has a great potential for addiction – also in HSK.

Write with friends, follow the latest trends and find out who you are – teenagers can do all this on social networks. Young people in particular maintain their social contacts via social media. In the last twenty years, the world has experienced a huge digital change, it is part of everyday life.

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Almost all 12 to 25-year-olds use their smartphone, tablet or computer every day in their spare time. Although technology makes it possible, especially in Corona times, to at least exchange digital information with friends, on the other hand, there is a lack of sufficient movement and real communication due to the constant consumption of digital media. “It is normal for children and young people to surf the web, play games or chat excessively,” says AOK service region manager Dirk Schneider, “if the intensive consumption does not decrease even after months and determines the day, parents should definitely take action. .” Media and internet addiction is the drug of the future. More and more children and young people use digital media more than is good for them.

Ten minutes of media time per years of life per day

The December 2020 study on drug affinity in children and adolescents aged twelve to 25 by the Federal Center for Health Education (BZgA) shows that almost all of the approximately 7,000 respondents used computer games and/or the Internet on a daily basis. Communication and entertainment are at the forefront of the use of technology. During the week, more than 24 hours are spent in front of the screen or display – in addition to use for school, study or work. The recommended upper limit for young people aged ten and over is ten minutes of media time per day. the age per day or one hour per the age per week. However, the length of use alone does not constitute media addiction. Additional warning signs must be added to this. Excessive media consumption and computer game addiction are attributed to behavioral addictions.




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Just like with alcohol, tobacco or drug addiction, the reward system is activated with the respective behavior and those affected want to reward themselves with this kick again and again, want their posts or pictures and videos to be ‘liked’ again and again. By doing so, they lose control of their behavior, neglect other interests and ignore health problems. For children and young people, the computer becomes more important than friends, parents, leisure interests or school. They can no longer concentrate well, their back hurts, they feel tired and not so fit. “It can go so far that these children can barely cope with the challenges of the real world and become alienated from their environment,” says Schneider.

Parents should definitely try to talk to their child about it and ask why they have been online for so long. Experts recommend not to judge immediately, but to be really curious about your child’s explanations. It is important to take the pressure off to resolve the conflict. At the same time, parents should also set limits by setting rules for media use – preferably in writing in a media use contract that parents and child sign.

Concerned parents can also contact an educational advice centre. There, it can first be clarified whether the suspicion of media addiction is justified or not. Useful information is available on the Internet at www.aok.de/nw, the topic ‘media education’ and at www.schau-hin.info.


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