Nearly one in ten young people are addicted to social media while one in four were found to have generalised problematic internet use, according to a survey presented to the House education committee on Wednesday.

The survey, which covered 1059 young people aged 15 to 35 was carried out by Alexander College-Alexander Research Centre in September 2020 and funded by the Cyprus National Addictions Authority, the Youth Board and Hellenic Bank.

Committee chairman Kyriakos Hadjiyianni said the survey’s results were concerning.

“Some 8 per cent to 9 per cent are addicted, and some 25 per cent show mistaken, problematic use of the internet,” he said. Society must act and must include programmes on the risks of the internet in the curricula of primary, secondary and tertiary education.

“We understand the huge advantages, the huge potential which the internet can offer to society … but the dangers are such that they require a specific, institutionalised and comprehensive policy by the state,” he said.

Director of the Alexander Research Centre Costas Christodoulides said that the relationship between young people and adults with social media and the internet was being investigated worldwide, focusing beyond the positive aspects of technology on the darker aspect that could develop. The survey sought to establish what the situation was here.

“In the light of this new scientific data we would like to point out that the problem of addiction to social media and the internet exists and constitutes a danger to public health in Cyprus,” he said.

“As such it could be dealt with by the state with positive initiatives which put young people, schools and educational establishments at the centre,” he added. Programmes could be developed with the young people to move from the passive to active use of technology.

Christodoulides noted that 17 per cent of respondents said they had problems at school or with the studies because of excessive use of social media. And 30 per cent of respondents spend four to eight hours daily online.