Computer 'addiction' up among Italian youth 11-16

Medical federation warns of mental health impact

Computer 'addiction' up among Italian youth 11-16

Milan, January 21 - Computer and internet dependance among children and adolescents age 11 to 16 is on the rise, along with health issues related to excessive web surfing, according to a report by the Italian Medical Federation Fnomceo released on Monday. The study that polled 240,000 school-aged children and teens found that they spent an average of three or more hours on the computer. Fnomceo said that one of the most serious disturbances caused by computer addiction, Hikikomori Syndrome, causes a tendency to isolate oneself from society. Until the 1980s the syndrome was found mostly in Japan. Sufferers of Hikikomori Syndrome create a "parallel reality" that means their only friends are "playstations and computers," said the report. "Unfortunately Italian mental health institutions often overlook the problem because those affected are not diagnosed," Fnomceo said. Sufferers are not "autistic, nor does their scholastic performance fail to meet standards, but once their outside obligations are performed they retreat into a completely isolated and virtual world," the study reports. The syndrome can be fought by "raising consciousness of its existence" since it is still a little-known phenomenon in Italy.

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