According to the current study by DAK-Gesundheit and UKE Hamburg, the number of dependent children and adolescents with computer games increased from 2.7 percent in 2019 to 6.3 percent in June 2022. Extrapolated, about 330,000 children and adolescents thus have pathological gaming use with severe social consequences according to the criteria of the World Health Organization (WHO). The current results longitudinal study show: Around 2.2 million children and adolescents use gaming, social media or streaming problematically. This means they are at risk of addiction or already affected. In the area of social media, the number of people affected by media addiction doubled to around 350,000. According to the study, around 1.8 million children and young people show problematic use with computer games and or social media.
Usage times above pre-pandemic level
According to the study by DAK-Gesundheit and UKE-Hamburg, usage times for computer games and social media have continued to rise. After a sharp increase in the first Corona Lockdown in April 2020, there was initially a decline. However, this positive development did not continue: In June 2022, gaming usage times were almost 34 percent higher than in September 2019, at around two hours on weekdays. There was an equally significant increase in the same period for social media, at 35.5 percent, from two hours to two hours and 45 minutes daily.
Physical ailments caused by excessive media use
For the first time, the study also examined the physical effects of excessive media use. The result: one-third of respondents complained of neck pain (32.1 percent) after using digital devices for several hours. 23.4 percent have dry or itchy eyes, and 16.9 percent reported pain in their forearm or hand.
The figures from the current DAK study are worrying. It is important that those affected by media addiction receive help. However, it is also important that media-using children and young people are not stigmatized across the board. In our podcast "klicksafe asks ..." we talk about why an undifferentiated use of the term media addiction is problematic. Our guest on the podcast is Torsten Krause from the German Children's Fund.