Nessa Childers, who was elected to European Parliament from her Leinster constituency last June, believes Facebook to be “clear and present threat to the mental health of millions of European citizens."
She is campaigning to have new laws put in place to protect Facebook users from becoming addicts. Ireland already has 400,000 Facebook users and it is certain that Childers statement will not be welcomed by most users.
She said “Visiting your Facebook page frequently causes what psychologists refer to as 'intermittent reinforcement'. Messages and invites reward you with an unpredictable high, much like gambling.
"That anticipation can get dangerously addictive. Visiting Facebook rewards you with virtual connections. These connections then expand to fill an increasingly empty internal world, creating a vicious circle.
"We can present on Facebook an unreal and flawless version of ourselves. Many people access their Facebook page once or twice a week. However, for others it has turned into a compulsion."
Childer’s is the daughter of the fourth President of Ireland, Erskine H. Childers. Before entering politics she worked as a psychoanalyst in private practice having qualified in Trinity College Dublin and University of Dublin.
In her professional opinion she said “Action is needed at international level from the EU to properly take on the disturbing trend of addiction to sites such as Facebook, which are responsible for all sorts of problematic behaviour.”