off record
Shaukat Ali Jawaid

Social Media Addiction Clinics

Advances in information technology and media have brought a revolution in every sphere of life. It is now being used quite extensively in every field to a great advantage but it has also brought with it some problems which are adversely affecting not only the quality of life but also the family life as well as the children. Excess of everything, it is said, is bad that is why it is important that we must ensure judicious use of technology while avoiding all its adverse effects, problems and complications. Studies have now confirmed that excessive use of screen time by the children leads to numerous problems related to their physical and mental development.

Realizing the importance of this new emerging disorder, the organizers of the recently held International Psychiatric conference on “Prescription for Wellness” had organized a special pre-conference workshop on “Children in the Digital World”. It was facilitated by a number of eminent medical personalities which included child psychiatrists, psychologists, educationists and paediatricians. It was pointed out that extensive use of screen time by pre-school children results in significant increase in BMI. Low level of physical activity with passive use of digital technology is also linked to obesity and diabetes. It also has effects on body and development of the child.

One of the speakers also informed the participants that now research is looking at effects of children texting with one thumb and texting with two thumbs and how it has impact on C-Spine. More use of screen in early years also leads to language delays and there is a 9% increase in the risk of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorders (ADHD). It also affects mental health. More screen time, it was further stated, was associated with depressive symptoms in adults, poor quality of life while Text-neck is a disorder now being increasingly identified and recognized in adults. However, there is weak evidence related to poorer self esteem. Addiction to social media which includes internet addiction, Twitter addiction and Face Book addiction, Instagram addiction disturbs sleep besides Texting while walking or driving is also associated with serious consequences including some fatal accidents. Blue light emitted from smart phone and tablet screens also has effect on melatonin- a chemical in the brain which facilitates sleep. It is also an established fact that those who are deprived to good sleep at night do suffer from many disorders or their diseases progress to acute or chronic stage.

Yet another important fact highlighted by one of the speakers during the workshop was related to Cyber bullying which affects children in public and private space from schools to their bedrooms. One of the studies from Europe has showed that 12.2% of the victims of cyber bullying had viewed websites associated with suicide compared to 3.7% of people who were not involved in cyber bullying. Yet another speaker opined that children live in isolation if their parents are active on social media. Though these people have too many friends on Social Media but when they die, one does not see many people attending their Nimaze Jinaza. Hence, those who are more active on Social Media are well advised to be careful and spend more quality time with their family members and children otherwise it will not only ruin their family life but also professional career in the long run.

At a time when we are still struggling to overcome and eliminate communicable diseases, are faced with the epidemic of Non-Communicable Diseases, have frightening figures of highest infant, under five child mortality and maternal mortality, we will be faced with yet another epidemic of addiction to Social Media. Hence, coming up clinics for the treatment of addiction to social media cannot be ruled out in the days to come.

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