Almost half a million Czechs are addicted to mobile phones, social networks and online games

How many hours do you spend online outside of work? How often do you pick up your cell phone and could you survive a day without it? You may say that digital technology has become an indelible part of our lives and is quite harmless compared to other addictions, but experts are sounding the alarm and saying that just like any other, this addiction can upset the balance of your life, causing a number of health problems and damaging relationships with family and friends.

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According to experts, 445,000 people over the age of 15 in the Czech Republic are at risk of developing addiction to mobile phones, social networks and online games and more than 125,000 of them are at “high risk”. Pavla Chomynova, head of the National Observatory for Drugs and Drug Addiction, says the Covid pandemic has worsened people’s addiction to digital technologies and that young people are particularly vulnerable in this regard. According to the results of their study, excessive use of the Internet and digital technologies affects up to a quarter of adolescents.

“Basically, the youngest age group is most at risk, that is, 15-24 year olds. The prevalence of people at risk of digital addiction in the general adult population is 5-6%, while in the 15-24 age group it is almost 20%.

So what do they do most of the time? Are they on social media or addicted to games?

“It’s both. In boys or young men, gambling addiction is higher than in women. On the other hand, the use of social media is much more prevalent among women.

According to expert studies, the threshold indicating addiction is four hours online outside of work. People who exceed this time frame are at serious risk of developing an addiction. Problems tend to mount gradually. Affected people limit all contact to the online world and increasingly avoid socializing in real life. As their physical activity decreases, conflicts with friends and family increase. School grades and job performance suffer. Moreover, as with any addiction, any disruption of time spent online is accompanied by anxiety, depression, and even aggression.

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Statistics indicate that three-quarters of adults are online daily, outside of work or school. More than two-thirds of people are on social media. Adults most often use the Internet to check the latest news and search for information, browse social networks and shop online. Almost a quarter of people play digital games.

On weekdays, people spend an average of 130-150 minutes online, outside of work and study. On weekends it is 160-180 minutes.

Men spend more time online than women, on average twenty to thirty minutes. While men are spending more time playing games and watching pornography, women are on social media and shopping online. According to the report, six to seven percent of men and about five percent of women are at risk of developing an addiction.

Addiction specialists emphasize that the goal of treating this type of addiction is to reduce the time spent online and gain control over it. There are currently more than 300 addiction treatment centers in the country, and insurance companies cover the cost of treatment for 150 to 180 people a year.