Greece ranks second in Europe after the United Kingdom for rates of internet addiction among its population, according to a study conducted by nine European universities in collaboration with the Hellenic Association for the Study of Internet Addiction Disorders (EEMDED). The study’s findings were recently presented at a conference on innovation in Education held in Larissa, by psychiatrist and EEMDED president Dr. Konstantinos Siomos.
Siomos said that this confirms the findings of previous studies, such as a 2014 study showing that 10 pct of fourth-year medical students at Thessaloniki university were addicted to electronic games, to the extent that their academic performance suffered, along with 7 pct of high-ranking armed forces personnel.
Psychiatrist Dr. Giorgos Floros, citing figures published in the scientific magazine Computers in Human Behaviour in July 2018, noted that symptoms of internet addiction were found in 25 pct of European users and 37.7 pct of Greek users.
The typical addicted user, according to Siomos, was a child or teenager that made extensive use of the internet and played electronic games for several hours each day. Symptoms included depression, a lack of other interests, melancholy moods, ADHD and an inability to adapt to school.
“We have to understand that the interaction between a person and an electronic game or social media networks activates an immediate reward feedback loop….one like on Facebook, a good or bad comment on social media or a success in a video game can raise or lower dopamine levels,” he said.
Siomos also urged parents to seek expert advice if they suspected their child was addicted to the internet or electronic games, consulting a child psychologist to determine whether it was a simple case of addiction or behaviour complicated by other mental health issues, such as ADHD, mood swings or anxiety disorders.