May 24. 2024. 5:29

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Internet addiction on the rise in Serbia


People in Serbia are becoming slightly more addicted to social media, electronic devices and video games, Doctor Nikola Jovanović, a psychiatrist at the Institute for Mental Health, told EURACTIV, pointing to the lack of a national strategy to tackle internet addiction.

People all over the world spend several hours a day on social media. Immediately after receiving notifications, they check the content on social networks and often continue to browse “aimlessly” and compulsively.

Such addictions can lead to health impairment, and also affect productivity or the possibility of advancement in work or education – factors that can lead to other psychological issues.

While Serbia still lacks a national strategy to prevent internet addiction, it offers an effective treatment programme, he noted. The Institute plans to intensify activities in this area in 2023, he added.

“Certainly, in addition to available institutions for treatment, it is important to continuously inform the public. A person should visit a psychiatrist if he spends too much time using a mobile phone or computer, or, if they had tried to reduce their screen time, but failed. Further assessment of the situation should be left to an expert,” he said.

“In our country, there is a slight increase in the frequency of referrals to a psychiatrist due to Internet addiction,” he said.

It “is probably the result of poor information among the population, the tendency to ‘normalise’ the phenomenon, and the minimisation of the problems of both the addicted person and family members,” he added.

Multiple theories explain why people are at a higher risk of addiction though Jovanović believes one’s environment may have a greater effect on addiction than personality or behaviour.

“The environmental factor stands out here because communicating by the Internet has become ‘mandatory’. Also, the Internet enables anonymity, which reduces possible discomfort for people who have issues during communication, but at the same time significantly or almost completely impairs its quality”, Jovanović added.

(EURACTIV.rs | Milena Antonijević)