Renowned psychiatrist Prof. Naomi Fineberg captivated audiences worldwide during her insightful appearance in the “Ask the Expert” webinar hosted by Children and Screens, an organization dedicated to exploring the impact of digital media on young minds. 

Professor Fineberg, an eminent figure in the field of mental health, shared her expertise on the pressing issue of problematic use of the internet among children and adolescents and presented the BootStRaP Project she is currently coordinating. 


Heavy burden on humanity’s shoulders
 

The event was a remarkable opportunity for attendees to gain invaluable insights into the pressing problem of excessive and harmful internet use. It addressed many of the questions parents and caregivers have about problematic internet use behaviours and digital addictions in general.


Topics explored included how to define digital addiction and different types of problematic use of the internet, prevalence and risk factors for youth, interventions and treatments, prevention strategies, and recommendations for families and youth who may be struggling with these behaviours.


Problematic Use of the Internet (PUI) – it‘s an umbrella Term
 

The term problematic use of the internet covers a lot of different behaviors that may become problematic when excessive: it ranges from gaming, pornography viewing, gambling, shopping, and buying, video streaming, social media, cyberchondria, and online searching for medical information.

 

The European Union‘s investment into research – the efforts to prevent harm  

“I don’t think it will surprise you to know that there’s still a critical scarcity of reliable scientific evidence or information on many key issues related to this, despite the impact it’s having on society and children and young people,” Prof. Fineberg emphasized.  

“You may also be pleased to hear that the European Union has invested several billion euros in the BootStRaP Project, which I’m privileged to lead, it’s based on the principle that healthy Internet use is important for health and well-being and that a subset of young people is harmed by Internet use. Not everyone, but a subset.

 

We want to discover, some harm prevention strategies, both at the level of the individual creating techniques they can use to prevent harmful use. And then at the level of politicians and policymakers to see if there are new social and health policies that we can introduce that make it harder for at-risk young people to get addicted. We believe this will boost mental health, and wellbeing across Europe.”

 

As the digital landscape continues to evolve, the discussion surrounding internet use and its effects on children and adolescents becomes increasingly relevant.

 

Useful resources 

Prof. Fineberg encouraged the international audience to read a free popular e-book available online on www.internetandme website – “How to deal with PUI”. The book covers all the other different forms of PUI, how to define them and gives practical tips on how to manage them.

 

Watch the record of the discussion here: Screen Extremes: Children and Digital Addictions (#AtE) – YouTube.