Algeria has joined a growing list of countries to open rehab centres helping those who suffer from a web obsession. In South Korea, home of the world’s most connected population, digital detox camps have already treated thousands of children. According to South Korea’s Ministry of Family, 14 percent of South Korean teenagers are addicted to the internet.
Unlike South Korea, Algeria has been much slower to embrace the internet, launching long-awaited 3G service only about three years ago. Algeria’s internet penetration rate remains relatively low, standing at 32.8 percent in a country of 40 million people, according to this year’s State of Broadband Report.
Today, the North African country counts more than nine million Facebook users, according to Algerian digital marketing analysts. But this increasing use of the internet has come at a price.
“Algeria is experiencing what developing countries have been facing for a few years: the flip side of the internet,” Dr Raouf Bougouffa, director of the Bachir Mentouri clinic’s rehab department, told Al Jazeera. “An increasing number of internet users are losing control.”
Though there is not yet a formal definition of what an internet-related addiction entails, health experts at the clinic agree that internet overuse has emerged as a national issue.