The proportion of active or unemployed working men increases among people with addiction to new technologies in the Valencian Community

A study by Marina Cuquerella and Ana M. García, researchers from the Department of Preventive Medicine and Public Health of the University of Valencia, investigates the profile of people treated for addiction to Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) in the 33 Addictive Behaviour Units (UCA) of the Valencian Community between 2018 and 2020. They conclude that people with this type of addiction are mostly men, under 30 years of age, with primary education or less, and who live with their parents. However, in the period studied there is a trend towards an increase in age and in the proportion of men and active workers affected by this pathology.

The publication has its origin in the Master’s Thesis (Master’s Degree in Public Health and Health Management of the University of Valencia) by Marina Cuquerella, work directed by the professor of the Department of Preventive Medicine Ana M. García. Both authors emphasise that information on this type of addiction is still very scarce in our context and that it is, however, a growing problem that needs to be investigated for adequate care and prevention. "Additionally, lockdown and the repercussions of the pandemic may also have influenced this problem. The study presents, for the first time in Spain, data on the characteristics of the people who have requested help for their addiction to ICTs and have used the records of the specialised addiction care units of the Valencian Health System for this purpose", they highlight.

ICT addiction is the continued and abusive habit of social networks, the Internet, video games or any other activity that involves the use of electronic devices. In the study by Cuquerella and García, it is observed that the relative weight of ICT addictions has increased between 2018 and 2020 regarding the total number of addictions treated in the Valencian Community.

The results of the study show that in 2020 the percentage of addicted people over 30 years of age represented 62.1% of the total number of cases with ICT addiction, a notable increase compared to 25.7% in 2018. The proportion of this type of addiction in men has also increased, which goes from 85.5% in 2018 to 91.9% in 2020.

By activity and for the years 2018 and 2020, ICT addictions have increased among those who are working, going from 21.0% to 39.2% of the cases attended. Addicted people have also increased among those unemployed, going from 19.4% to 27.0%. On the contrary, there has been a decrease in the relative proportion of students with this addiction, which has dropped from 41.9% (2018) to 13.5% (year 2020).

The total number of people with ICT addiction included in the sample of this study, attended between 2018 and 2020, was 219 cases, mainly men (87%), under 30 years of age (53%), with primary education or lower (51%), and living with their parents (57%). Given that most people with this type of addiction have very possibly not come to seek treatment at the UCA, it is expected that the number of people affected in the Valencian Community will be much higher, according to the experts. The data to carry out this study were provided by the Drug Addiction and Other Addictive Disorders Management Service of the General Directorate of Public Health and Addictions of the Valencian Community.

Article : Marina Cuquerella-Gilabert, Ana M. García. ’Adicciones a las tecnologías de la información y la comunicación en la Comunitat Valenciana, 2018-2020’. Gaceta Sanitaria. 2023; 37: 102252.­j.gaceta.2­022.102252