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Facebook Addiction – Therapy or Drug?

Comparing social media to a drug is hardly a new phenomenon. In fact, it’s been around long enough to swing from panicked hysteria, through to quip-based flippancy and back to a median notion that while it’s not the apocalypse, there is reason for concern. We’ve all read the studies about the insecurity and mood swings promoted by the overuse of social media and the effects of apps on a generation that has grown up with them has been an issue of serious debate.

WikiHow even lists 10 steps to rid yourself of the scourge – although, being WikiHow, it can be taken as poorly executed comedy that exists for no discernible reason other than to give an ad bar somewhere to flash. However, outside of Oatmeal and the Onion and other sites with awful names, there are medical journals printing some fascinating studies and Live Science has even reported a US study that showed a similarity in brain patterns between Facebook addiction and substance abuse. All this before we even get to the dreaded coining of FOMO (Fear of Missing Out).

This all goes rather a long way to explaining why Algeria deemed it necessary to open Africa’s very first Facebook addiction clinic in the eastern city of Constantine. That’s right; Africa’s, not the world’s. There are in fact another two Facebook addiction clinics with programmes designed specifically for adherents of the Like. One is in China and the other is in South Korea.

Algeria currently has around 10 million Facebook users in the country; roughly a quarter of the population. That number is also growing by 10 per cent a year. Hoping to wean users off the ‘blue magic’ of the site, the clinic’s director human development scientist Raouf Boqafa, will use counselling as the prime means to discover the root issue that drives excessive social media use. He adds ‘There is some danger in underestimating the damage of Facebook addiction compared to the risk of physical drugs. The idea came to limit the three effects of the addiction: to reduce the psychological, social, and security damage experienced by one who lives in the virtual world.’

In other words, with a little rehabilitation, life is just as likeable without all the Likes.

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