Tuesday, June 18, 2024
Tuesday June 18, 2024
Tuesday June 18, 2024

Australian teens’ social media addiction sparks extreme behaviours, experts call for legal reforms



Australian teens addicted to social media exhibit dangerous behaviours, prompting a national campaign to raise the social media access age to 16

Australian teenagers’ addiction to social media and online gaming has led to alarming behaviours, including violent confrontations with their parents. Some teens have resorted to pulling knives when denied access to Wi-Fi, highlighting the severe impact of digital addiction on family dynamics. Psychologist Dr. Huu Kim Le, who specializes in technological addiction, revealed that children exhibit extreme reactions like smashing doors and shouting when their devices are taken away.

The issue isn’t limited to teenagers. A recent Triple P parenting survey found that nearly one in three toddlers under the age of two are already hooked on screen-based activities. Australian Psychological Society CEO Dr. Zena Burgess observed that parents often hand over devices to restless children in public places, which can lead to early dependency on screens.

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As children grow, their addiction to digital media can severely impact their daily lives, including their academic performance and emotional well-being. Dr. Le noted that many teens stay up until the early hours of the morning, leading to sleep deprivation, missed school days, and increased anxiety. This situation forces parents to seek professional help to manage their children’s screen time and behavioural issues.

In response to this growing crisis, News Corp Australia and concerned parents have launched the “Let Them Be Kids” campaign. They are urging the federal government to raise the minimum age for social media access to 16. This initiative aims to curb the negative effects of early exposure to digital media and promote healthier childhood development.

Experts suggest that parents take a proactive and positive approach to managing their children’s digital consumption. Nicola Palfrey, Headspace’s head of clinical leadership, advises parents to engage in open conversations about social media rather than adopting a strictly prohibitive stance. She emphasizes the importance of understanding children’s online interests and discussing potential risks.

The campaign also provides practical tips for families to manage technology use effectively. Recommendations include setting screen time limits, creating tech-free zones at home, and using parental controls to monitor content. By establishing clear guidelines and maintaining open communication, parents can better support their children’s digital habits.

Moreover, Dr. Burgess advocates for more psychological support in schools and fully subsidized private sessions for individuals aged 14 to 24. She argues that early intervention is crucial, as mental health issues related to social media often emerge during school years. Increased access to psychological services could help address these problems before they escalate.

The impact of social media addiction extends beyond individual families, affecting broader societal dynamics. Politically, the issue calls for legislative action to protect children’s mental health. Economically, the cost of treating addiction and its consequences strains both public and private resources. Socially, the rise in aggressive behaviours linked to digital addiction underscores the need for comprehensive community and educational interventions.


From a local perspective, the “Let Them Be Kids” campaign highlights the role of community initiatives in tackling this issue. Schools, parents, and local authorities must collaborate to create supportive environments that prioritize children’s well-being over digital engagement. This approach requires a collective effort to foster healthier digital habits and reduce the risks associated with excessive screen time.

Addressing gender and minority perspectives is also essential. Girls and boys may experience digital addiction differently, with unique challenges and vulnerabilities. Tailored interventions that consider these differences can lead to more effective solutions. Additionally, marginalized communities often lack access to resources and support, making them more susceptible to the adverse effects of digital addiction. Ensuring equitable access to mental health services and educational programs is crucial for comprehensive support.

In conclusion, the rise in extreme behaviours among Australian teens due to social media addiction necessitates urgent action. The “Let Them Be Kids” campaign represents a significant step towards legislative reform and increased awareness. By fostering open communication, implementing practical guidelines, and providing psychological support, society can better manage the digital habits of young people and mitigate the negative impacts of technological addiction.


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