Almost 2 million kids – basically one teenager out of two – risk ending up in the whirlpool of addictions with the possible tail of depression or isolation from friends and peers. The numbers come from an ISS survey and are impressive: over a million and 150,000 adolescents in Italy are at risk of food addiction, almost 500,000 could have it for video games while almost 100,000 have characteristics compatible with the presence of an addiction to social media.
The phenomenon of social isolation (the Hikikomori syndrome) is also widespread, affecting 1.8% of middle school students and 1.6% of high school students: in practice 65,000 young people. Furthermore, it is precisely those who present the greatest risk of addictions who most report having difficulty talking to their parents about things that worry them.
The survey on «generation Z» on almost 9,000 students
The photograph of the ailments of the very young emerges from the study “Behavioral addictions in generation Z”, the result of an agreement between the Department of Anti-Drug Policies of the Presidency of the Council of Ministers and the National Center for Addiction and Doping of the Istituto Superiore di Sanità. For the study, more than 8,700 students between the ages of 11 and 17 were interviewed in the autumn of 2022, around 3,600 from lower secondary schools and around 5,100 from lower secondary schools, throughout the national territory, selected in order to have a representative sample of the population. The survey also explored the relationship between parents and children, inviting all middle school parents who had joined the study to participate, and 1,044 questionnaires were collected. The survey also focused attention on the characteristics of young people with a risk profile and behavior related to the use of the Internet, such as social challenges, doxing, sexting and morphing.
Social media addiction and internet gaming disorder
2.5% of young people have characteristics compatible with the presence of an addiction to social media (about 99,600 students), i.e. compulsive attendance of social channels (facebook, instagram, tik tok, twitch, etc.), a percentage that in the genus female students reaches 3.1% in female students aged 11-13 and 5.1% in female students aged 14-17. At-risk students aged 11-13 were 10.1 times more likely to have severe or very severe social anxiety disorder and 5.5 times more likely to be highly impulsive. The risk of video game use disorder, on the other hand, involves 12% of students (about 480,000): the male gender is more affected, with the percentage reaching 18% in lower secondary male students and 13.8% in high school students (versus 10.8% in middle school and 5.5% in high school for females). Compared to age, the highest risk percentage is found in middle schools with 14.3% of children at risk, while the figure drops to 10.2% in high schools. Associated factors are moderately severe or severe depression, with a 5.54-fold increased risk in 11-13-year-olds and 3.49 times increased risk in 14-17-year-olds, and severe or very severe social anxiety, with a by 3.65 times higher than the average in 11-13 year olds and 5.80 in 14-17 year olds
The big numbers of «Food Addiction»
The risk of food addiction – that is, the tendency to eat foods rich in sugars and/or fats in an uncontrolled manner (such as sweets, sugary drinks, carbohydrates, salty snacks, fatty protein foods, etc.) – involves a large proportion of teenagers: they are affected about 1 million and 152 thousand students between 11 and 17 years, of which more than 750,000 are females (271,773 in middle schools and 485,413 in high schools). 13.1% (about 523,000 students) have a low risk; 6.4% (about 256,000 students) moderate risk; 9.3% (more than 373,000 students) are at serious risk. Those with a risk of severe food addiction in the 11-13 year old sample are 11.62 times more likely to have moderately severe or severe depression; 6.55 times to have moderate depression; 4.43 times to have moderate anxiety and 2.39 times to have mild depression