Science

“It’s time to consider mental retardation caused by some social media as a major public health issue”

AGAINSTIt was in mid-August, just after lunch in a mountain retreat in the Hautes-Alpes. Plates of duralex soup were stacked and crozet gratin rubbed down to the last crumb into stainless steel plates by hungry travelers. Night was about to fall, but before reaching the bedrooms, the inhabitants of the place, located in a luxurious place, lingered for a moment around the wooden tables, as if they tasted a little more the pleasure of being together in this place without silence. world. .

And here a miracle happened. A group of teenagers took out a tarot game, the older ones got the Scrabble board, an impromptu master class in massage of the cervical spine was arranged on the bench, and most importantly, the conversations doubled. A real flood of sociability. A scene worthy of Back to the Future, a collective immersion in the pre-smartphone era, when the idea of ​​communicating with others with a box rather than with a neighbor never crossed anyone’s mind.

The screens didn’t magically disappear. Powered by only a few solar panels and a water turbine, the shelter doesn’t allow laptops to be charged. Moreover, the network does not pass there. With the right name, will the “retreat” be one of the last “living together” havens liberated from the digital dictatorship?

An earlier trend

We recalled this moment of collective magic at its height as we read L’Obs’ disturbing file on the stress and anxiety that ruins the lives of many high school students and overburdens child mental health services. “Social media is putting unprecedented pressure on teens. They are constantly subject to the torments of the image, they have to stage their lives, even if it means fantasizing about it. (…) They no longer have the right to be average, testifies Laurent Pinel, a psychiatrist who specializes in caring for high school and university students. The loss of meaning and self-doubt that our patients suffer from is largely due to digitalization and (…) to a form of dehumanization of their social relationships. “A doctor whose patients are forced to wean from a mobile phone advises parents to “reintroduce joint activities without a screen”, a bit like in a mountain refuge.

Paul, a Nantes schoolboy caught up in the gripping spiral of Instagram, a photo-sharing network that encourages you to constantly look for signs of recognition, even if it means inflicting severe humiliation, had to be hospitalized in a psychiatric hospital. At the age of 13, he was connected to her twelve hours a day. “It’s about the ‘social’ network,” his father rages in a powerful documentary just released by Arte. But Paul, it totally locked him up. He is almost forced to re-learn how to live with others. »

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