Press release: Dianova Launches the First International Social Awareness Campaign on Internet Addiction
- 7% of adolescents aged 14-17 are at risk of developing Internet addictive behaviours and 13.9% have dysfunctional internet behaviours, translating in various compulsive online activities such as gaming, gambling and social networking, according to EU-funded research project.
- Adolescents with dysfunctional internet behaviours report lower psychosocial well-being, more anxiety and depression, somatic complaints, social and thought problems, and rule-breaking behaviours.
Barcelona, 24th June 2016: Mobile digital tools such as smartphones, tablets and notebooks have spread throughout the world, enabling people to access the Internet, connect to social networks, play games and engage themselves in a variety of other online activities 24 hours a day, seven days a week for all 365 days a year!
However, resulting from these fast and affordable “always-on” connections made possible by wireless access and mobile digital tools, a growing number of adolescents are prone to develop behaviour disorders arising from their inability to control their Internet use.
Over time, these behaviours may turn in a full-fledged Internet addiction disorder with symptoms such as: neglecting one’s friends, family and sleep to stay online; being dishonest with others; feeling guilty, ashamed, anxious or depressed as a result of online behaviour; weight gain or loss, backaches, headaches, etc., according to Kimberly Young, a renowned expert on Internet addiction.
The Internet addiction disorder is a multifaceted phenomenon that can be divided into various subtypes, such as compulsive online gaming, gambling, social networking, blogging, emailing, shopping, and pornography use. There is a variety of stimuli online that may lead to adverse consequences, such as difficulty in managing one’s time (sleep deprivation, inability to manage daily tasks), one’s relationships (solitude, isolation, frustration, jealousy), schoolwork performance and productivity at work.
Addiction researchers have developed instruments to assess the level of Internet addiction, such as the Internet Addiction Test of Dr Kimberly Young which classifies the addictive behaviour in terms of mild, moderate and severe impairment. These instruments can also provide the grounds for treatment in programs based on cognitive behavioural therapy, family and group therapy, social skills training and addiction counselling.
“Dianova is pleased to launch an innovative campaign that aims not only to raise awareness about a major concern for adolescents and parents, but also to contribute to a constructive debate on the issue of Internet overuse and the widespread obsession with technology, a public health problem that we will need to tackle in a very near future”, said Montserrat Rafel, Executive Director of Dianova International.
Inspired by the 1973 Academy Award-winning film “The Exorcist”, the campaign #dontletthempossessyou was created by TBWA Spain (Barcelona) and will be the motto of Dianova’s celebration of the International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking, on June 26th. Dianova’s aim will also be elicit responses from governments, international organizations and the civil society at large so as to effectively address this emerging issue.
The campaign portrays two adolescents hooked on their smartphone, who at the same time appear to be possessed by an evil spirit which prevents them from having a normal life. The campaign’s message invites these adolescents (and in real life those who may have a similar problem and their parents) to escape the situation by seeking help.
 Research on Internet Addictive Behaviours among European adolescents (Tsitsika, Tzavela and Mavromati, 2012)