A politician in Italy submitted a bill in late July that is intended to curb what she perceives as the rising threat of ‘phone addiction’ among teenagers, reports Isobel Asher Hamilton for Business Insider US.
Vittoria Casa, a member of the governing populist Five Star party, said teenage phone usage is “getting worse and worse and it must be treated like an addiction,” per The Times.
“We agree with studies showing that expecting ‘likes’ for posting on social media triggers the chemical dopamine in the brain. It’s the same as gambling,” she said, according to the newspaper.
The bill cites figures that eight in 10 Italian teens fear losing their phones and their connection to the internet, otherwise known as “nomophobia.”
Casa added that teenagers are “vampiring”, or staying on their screens messaging at night. “So-called vampiring means children are nervous and apathetic the next day in school,” she said.
The bill would bring in courses at school-level on the dangers of phone addiction, a public awareness campaign aimed at parents, and even “re-education” in health centres for extreme cases. The bill would also ask Italy’s postal police to monitor excessive phone usage, according to The Times. Business Insiderwas unable to confirm how the police would enforce this.
But Andrew Przybylski, an experimental psychologist at the Oxford Internet Institute in the UK, expressed grave doubts about the bill.
“This law and others like it are a pretty bad idea,” he told Business Insider. Przbylski is skeptical of much of the science and media buzz that surrounds studies about phone or internet addiction.
“We need solid science, not fear-mongering,” he said. Przybylski is set to lead a large-scale study into how digital technologies affects adolescent wellbeing in October.