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"Addictions such as shopping, online gambling or video games are new, but there are techniques to overcome them."

María Contreras, a researcher at the University, recommended seeking professional financial aid if loss of control and negative interference of an activity in daily life is detected.

/From left to right, Gemma Mestre, from the International University of La Rioja; Gonzalo Arrondo, from Institute for Culture and Society of the University of Navarra; Marta Beranuy, from the Public University of Navarra; and María Contreras, from School of Education and Psychology.

13 | 01 | 2023

"Behavioral addictions, for example to shopping, online gambling and the consumption of pornography or video games are new, but there are techniques to overcome them". This was stated at the University of Navarra by researcher María Contreras at the framework of a workshop organized by the Institute for Culture and Society (ICS) within its challenge 'Young people, relationships and psychological well-being'.

From agreement with the expert of the School of Education and Psychology, there are two signs that indicate that it is advisable to go to mental health professionals to address them. "The first is dependence and loss of control: the individual tries hard to stop doing that activity, but cannot," she explained.

Secondly, if this problematic behavior has a significant negative impact on daily life, both family, social and occupational: "Those who suffer from it feel guilt and shame, isolate themselves and neglect their responsibilities". 

Gemma Mestre, researcher at the International University of La Rioja, who develops a project at challenge ICS, also intervened in the workshop . In her discussion paper she referred to pornography addiction. In addition to those mentioned by María Contreras, she stated that other factors that warn of possible dependence are tolerance and abstinence syndrome.

"At the beginning, the person needs little stimulation to achieve a certain level of excitement, but as time goes by, he or she needs to carry out that activity more frequently or look for something more extreme to feel the same as at the beginning," he pointed out. On the other hand, he pointed out that the so-called "monkey" can lead to irritability, aggressiveness...

Addiction to video games: 4-10% of Spanish teenagers

According to him, there is controversy as to whether pornography addiction exists or not, but he pointed out that it is gaining weight. "Compulsive sexual behavior has just been recognized as a mental disorder -he pointed out- and pornography has been included in it".

The third speaker, Marta Beranuy, a researcher at the Public University of Navarra, focused her talk on video game addiction. "Although statistics vary, we could say that in Spain there are between 4 and 10% of young adolescents with this problem," she said.

The professor added that these behaviors sometimes underlie other problems such as social difficulties, family conflicts, communication problems ... "Sometimes the shyest children or those with poorer interpersonal skills -she recalled- resort to these games as an escape source . Mental health professionals work on these aspects in parallel".

The workshop 'Behavioral addictions in a digital world', organized and moderated by the researcher of the ICS Gonzalo Arrondo, is part of the challenge ICS 2022-2023. It studies psychological well-being in adolescence and youth and is aligned with the Strategy 2025 of the University of Navarra.