Clinic designed to treat social media addiction opens in Switzerland

Clinic designed to treat social media addiction opens in Switzerland

A brand new clinic has opened in Switzerland that is designed to treat social media addiction among young people. Experts at the facility argue that some attitudes towards the internet, TikTok, Facebook and Instagram, among other platforms, can constitute a serious addiction.

Social media tightens its grip worldwide

Whether it’s doom scrolling on your mobile phone or catching yourself spending hours idly consuming Facebook videos or YouTube shorts, social media’s grip on the public mind has only gotten stronger. In February, the European Commission announced that it was investigating video sharing platform TikTok over concerns that the design of the app leads to addiction and violates laws protecting children from “harmful content.”

While the Swiss government is yet to take similar action, one new clinic in Thun, Canton Bern, hopes to treat the symptoms of social media addiction. According to SonntagsBlick, the new clinic is targeted at 18 to 25-year-olds who become addicted to social media. It is the first clinic in Switzerland that hopes to treat the condition.

Young people can get addicted to social media, say doctors

“When young adults are treated with us for depression or anxiety disorders, social media has a big influence, and very often what stresses them out the most is these social networks” chief physician Stephan Kupferschmid told 20 Minuten. Of particular concern is TikTok, which he described as an “attention vacuum.”

When asked whether overuse of social media constitutes an “addiction”, Kupferschmid noted that the symptoms are largely the same: “We do something even if it is not good for us because the short-term thrill outweighs the long-term consequences.” 

Social media addiction is a growing problem in Switzerland

According to a 2023 study from the University of Zurich, 7 percent of 11 to 15-year-olds in Switzerland have trouble sleeping, and neglect school and family life because of social media. Highlighting the extent of the issue, just four weeks after the clinic opened in January, it already had a waiting list.

At the clinic in Thun, doctors focus on behavioural therapy in both groups and individually. Rather than denying young people access to social media, the course tries to spark interest in other more mindful activities. It also hopes to teach young people to better regulate their consumption.

Jan de Boer


Jan de Boer

Editor for Switzerland at IamExpat Media. Jan studied History at the University of York and Broadcast Journalism at the University of Sheffield. Though born in York, Jan has lived most...

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