Kirsty Charles is the victim of online bullying through Facebook.
Kirsty Charles is the victim of online bullying through Facebook. Dave Noonan

Boom times for social media addiction centres

DESPERATE parents are booking their children into expensive retreats in a bid to help them with anxiety and depression, much of it caused by addiction to social media.

Peregian's Integrated Life Centre has been so overwhelmed with bookings - with people prepared to pay $9500 for a 10-day program - it has expanded to the Gold Coast.

Owner Pettina Stanghon said children as young as 12 needed help.

Ms Stanghon (pictured) said many parents were attributing "social media, Facebook and iPods to their child's mental health".

"Girls, particularly, have such an attachment online to their sense of health," she said.

"They have complete mental breakdowns at the thought of being offline any extent of time."

She said research showed there were a several "different neuroses and mental health issues attributed" to social media and the use of smartphones.

"It's impacting right down to the need for immediacy and constant stimulation," she said.

With busy mums also handing over the tablets and smartphones to occupy young children, Ms Stanghon said toddlers did not perceive "something as real unless it is photographed and put online".

"For teenagers it impacts their self-worth. It is not only about the likes and not likes they look for, it affects the way the brain is working," she said.

"You get a hormone release every time you get an alert (that an email or message has come trough). You get addicted to those alerts.

"The idea of going in silence is confronting."

It's not only children needing to break away from internet overload.

Adults are also paying from $3500 for a seven-day program up to $19,450 for 28 days at Maleny's Fountainhead Organic Health Retreat.

Consultant Paul Francis said many people were coming to Fountainhead "with stress-related illnesses".

Facebook was "a trigger".

Both Ms Stanghon and Mr Francis believe banning social media was not the solution; moderation was.

HOW TO PREVENT FACEBOOK ADDICTION:

  • Make it clear to your children they are only borrowing the device, you own it.
  • Make sure it is monitored at all time
  • Limit usage in a similar fashion to which we used to limit usage around television.
  • Set up boundaries and be comfortable reinforcing them
  • Don't be a Luddite. You have to be informed with what's happening.

Which social network stresses you out the most?

This poll ended on 03 August 2014.

Current Results

Facebook

27%

Twitter

2%

Google+

0%

They're all as bad as each other

70%

This is not a scientific poll. The results reflect only the opinions of those who chose to participate.


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