30th March 2017

Digital addiction: the most difficult type of addiction among young people

A recent study has shown that we are rapidly becoming addicted to technology, an addiction that often begins at an early age.

Most research indicates that teenagers have become so attached to smart phones, tablets and televisions, to the extent that they no longer have time for drug or alcohol use.

The trend of technology addiction began ten years ago and experts believe that technology can provide young people with an experience similar to drug use. According to the annual results of the Future Studies, drug use, alcohol and tobacco use among teenagers in the United States declined dramatically reaching its lowest level in 1990. The percentage of high school students US drug users also declined significantly between 2015 and 2016.

Nora Folco, director of the National Institute of Drug Abuse, hopes to find out the link between lower rates of drug use among young people and increased addiction on technology.

Dr. Nicholas Cardaras, a specialist in psychiatry, said that addiction to electronic devices use in children has the same effect as heroin or cocaine, especially when accessing these devices at an early age. He added: smart device screens are the "digital heroin" for children, especially those under the age of ten.

Cardaras also said that "some people accuse me of exaggerating when I compare electronic devices to addictive substances such as tobacco and drugs, but dealing with patients with digital addiction problems is much more difficult than treating those suffering from drug addiction".

Cardaras added that the average age of digital addiction is 35 years, a study conducted by the University of Indiana for two weeks on a sample of video game addicts, concluded that images of the brain show changes in the frontal cortex in a similar way to drug addiction.

Cardaras warned parents against the danger of digital addiction for their children, saying that one of his patients, a six-year-old child, became addicted to the "Minecraft" computer game and his life took a bad turning.

Moreover, a recent study confirmed that the use of technology increases the level of dopamine, a chemical in the brain that has a direct impact on feelings and behaviors, including attention.

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