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One in 40 young Swiss shows online addiction

Not all young Swiss get out as much as they should Keystone

Around 2.3 per cent of young Swiss people are addicted to online games and other forms of internet activity. This was “not alarming”, according to the government, and to be expected given increasing internet use.

Presenting a report on Wednesday, it said the average Swiss child or adolescent spent two hours – and up to three on days off – surfing the internet or playing video games.

The government added that there were large variations: while some spent just a few minutes a day online, others would stare at the screen for hours on end. Only a minority, however, showed excessive and problematic tendencies, according to the few available studies.

A 2010 study by Sucht Info Schweiz, the Swiss specialist centre for drug and alcohol problems, put the number of people online aged 13-29 who had a problem at 2.3 per cent. This figure doubled to 4.9 per cent for young people who just played video games.

It added that when adolescents can no longer say how long they have been online, there can be negative consequences for nutrition, fitness and sleep patterns. In addition, spending a long time in front of a screen can increase the risk of muscle atrophy and posture problems.

The government estimated, based on the available figures and international studies, that in Switzerland one to six per cent of users have a “problematic relationship” with the internet.

The government said on Wednesday it would task the interior ministry with looking into excessive internet use in more detail because at present there were few studies on the issue.

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SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR

SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR