Life on screen?

The BBC’s excellent Storyville Series recently tackled Internet/web addiction with a disturbing film called Web Junkies, China’s addicted Teens. Authorities had a very blunt approach with teenagers being held in boot camps and confronted with their addiction. Messages were equally stark  and direct.

“The social part of your brain has stopped developing.”

“You’re afraid to communicate with others.”

“They’re lonely and introverted.”

China sees the gaming/Internet addiction as a major threat to teenager health.

One of the most poignant parts of the film was when we saw a mother in tears trying to tell her son how it felt to “lose” him to a screen. How she came to dread the sound of his keyboard clicking when she went near his room and how she hoped to see him outside the house but knew he would be locked away in his room. She was despairing as was her husband. The son remained locked in a passive perplexed expression, a psychiatrist trying to prompt feeling in him towards his family situation.

We have to be cautious about making sweeping statements about the effect of technology but it seems as though many young (and not so young) people are becoming less connected due to large times spent on screen. Mental health healing essentially takes place in relationship. The quality of that relationship is crucial. Screens do not offer the same quality.

Even when you're not a big user of Facebook, you may feel like you're missing out by not having some sort of presence on the site. If you do choose to step away from social media, you may find after initially missing the constant updates, you are now enjoying the freedom of not being “involved” in others’ lives via the feeds.

The Psychoanalyst Josh Cohen thinks we need to have a private self, a hidden aspect of ourselves and a part that remains hidden even to ourselves. If we keep revealing, this hidden aspect may get eroded and hence we are somehow exposed. Fiction is full of the idea of an all seeing, exposing higher authority, Orwell’s 1984 and Bentham’s Pernopticom .

How do we behave if we know we feel we are being watched all the time? What does social evaluation do to our prospective behaviour? These are questions we may need to be asking ourselves.

“We can only heal in relationship”

If you are suffering from any issues perhaps related to some of the above therapy can be a good starting point to a worthwhile journey.


Cohen J. The Private Life. (2013) Why we remain in the Dark. Granta Books.

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Written by Graham Allen Bsc (Hons) Psychology, Dip Psych, PGCE, Reg MBACP (Accred)

Certified Online PractitionerAreas I am experienced in......

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Written by Graham Allen Bsc (Hons) Psychology, Dip Psych, PGCE, Reg MBACP (Accred)

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