Woman lying on sofa with laptop distantly working from home. Female user browses Internet online, communicates in social network, surfing important information. View over the shoulder close up photo

Number of Czech Children addicted To Social Media On The Rise

Girls are more often threatened with social media addiction than boys. Photo credit: Freepik.

Prague, May 9 (CTK) – The share of children aged 11 to 15 who might be addicted to social media has increased in the Czech Republic in the past four years, from 5% in 2018 to 8% in 2022, according to the international Health Behavior in School-aged Children (HBSC) study for 2022.

Girls are more often threatened with social media addiction than boys, said Michal Kalman, head of the research team, and Petr Badura, a data analyst from Palacky University in Olomouc, central Moravia, who presented the study results at a press conference in Prague yesterday.

The study has been repeated regularly every four years since the first half of the 1980s. The Czech Republic participated in it for the first time in 1994.

Last May and June, nearly 14,900 children aged 11, 13 and 15 from 246 primary schools and eight- and six-year grammar schools from all regions of the Czech Republic responded to the survey.

The World Health Organization (WHO) is monitoring the lifestyle of schoolchildren. A final study with results from 51 countries is due to be published in the autumn.

In the previous survey in 2018, Czech children were rather below average in their use of the Internet. The highest number of problematic users were found among teenagers in Malta, Spain and Romania, around 15% in each. The Netherlands, Israel and Switzerland had the lowest share, of around 3 to 4%, the researchers said.

Only 18% of the responding children do not have a profile on social media. Half of them use social media on a regular basis. Most use it every day, but not necessarily every free moment, while 23% of the respondents are on social media intensively, every free moment.

8% of children have the symptoms of problematic users with addiction to social media.

“Most children and adolescents do not have a problem with the online and virtual world. A healthy level of social networking and gaming is not harmful. It is a completely normal way of spending leisure time,” Badura said.

The research team found out that the problematic users sleep less and worse and face an increased risk of depression. They are more irritable, and suffer more from depression, loneliness or emotional problems. They are significantly more likely to drink energy drinks and alcohol. They have less physical exercise. Their relationships with peers and parents are more fragile, they are more likely to be bullied, and their school grades are worse. They also lie frequently.

Intensive social media users do not have their normal functioning disturbed, but they are above average in drinking alcohol and smoking and are more likely to be irritable. They also experience loneliness and boredom in life more than other peers, the study says.

Networking is “the domain of girls,” according to the researchers. Signs of addiction are indicated in 7% of 11-year-old girls and boys, while among 15-year-olds, 10% of female users and 5% of male users have problems. A further 30% of 15-year-old girls and 25% of 15-year-old boys are using social media intensively.

At the age of 11, 26% of boys and 23% of girls do not have a profile on social media, while four years later, this falls to 16% of boys and 10% of girls, the study shows.

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