Addiction specialists and psychologists in Algeria have opened a private clinic to deal with the growing problem of “Facebook dependency” in the country.
The clinic is the first of its kind in the region, and the third in the world after China and South Korea, and opened in May in the eastern city of Constantine.
Human development scientist Raouf Boqafa is director of the clinic, and is working with a group of psychiatrists to address other addictions such as drugs, alcohol and smoking.
“There is some danger in underestimating the damage of Facebook addiction compared to the risk of physical drugs,” he said.
Algeria counts around 10 million Facebook users with an annual growth of ten percent.
Boqafa compared the effects of the social media network to “black magic”, and argues that Facebook poses the greatest danger.
“Blue magic… the magic of Facebook and the wider internet,” he said. To tackle “blue magic”, Boqafa has rolled out a programme specially designed for social media users.
“The idea came to limit the three effects of the addiction… to reduce the psychological, social, and security damage experienced by one who lives in the virtual world.”
Boqafa argues that “Facebook addicts” are vulnerable to being brainwashed by extremist Islamist groups who use the internet as a recruiting tool.
To combat this, the treatment centre offers patients a space for counseling, Boqafa hopes they will discover the real reasons for their addiction and the clinic will help ween Algerians off their Facebook dependency.