Four-year-old girl is Britain’s youngest iPad addict

April 22, 2013 by
Filed under: Spinewave Bulletin 

Shocking rise in children hooked on using smartphones and tablets:

  • She is one many children displaying compulsive behaviour with the device.
  • Girls is so addicted to games that she experiences withdrawal symptoms.
  • Poll shows more than half of parents let their baby use tablet or smartphone.
  • 81 per cent of parents worry their children spend too long on gadgets.
  • Doctors note increase in addicted children “inconsolable” without them.

chiropractic-ipad-childA girl aged four is having psychiatric treatment after becoming Britain’s youngest known iPad addict. She is one of many child patients displaying compulsive behaviour after using the tablet device from an early age. Doctors say she is so addicted to games on her parents’ iPad that she experiences withdrawal symptoms when it is taken away.

Internet Addiction Disorder is set to be recognised by the NHS in a manual for GPs. Childcare author Tanith Carey said, “iPads, iPods and smartphones have become the new dummies for babies and toddlers.”

It comes days after a poll showed more than half of parents let their babies use a smartphone or tablet, with one in seven allowing it for four or more hours a day. The girl, from the South East of England, has been hooked on the device from age three. Her psychiatrist Dr Richard Graham, from Capio Nightingale Clinic in London, said there must be many more addicts of the same age.

He commended her parents for seeking help quickly, saying that by age 11, the problem might have become so severe that she would have required in-patient care. His clinic charges £16,000 a month for a “digital detox programme” to wean patients off tablets and other devices. Some spend 36-hour stretches online and operate up to 20 Facebook profiles.

Dr Graham said, “Don’t leave your iPad around because if you do, and children see all the pretty colours, they will want to use it too. They can’t cope and become addicted, reacting with tantrums and uncontrollable behaviour when they are taken away.”

child-ipottyA recent parent survey revealed that more than half let their babies use a tablet or smartphone, while one in seven give them access for four or more hours every day. Although 50 per cent of parents admit to buying their children digital devices, as many as 81 per cent think they spend too much time on them. Many parents also confiscate their children’s favourite electronic gadgets as a punishment, though more than half admit this approach has sparked a tantrum, branded an “iPaddy”.

Technology brands have been quick to jump on the trend for tech-savvy toddlers, with accessories such as a drool-proof tablet cover flying off the shelves. Perhaps most bizarre is the iPotty, described as “a comfortable and child-friendly potty with activity stand” that means your child need never be separated from their apps – even while toilet training.

Though the four-year-old girl’s condition is not advanced enough to merit in-patient care, Dr Graham said her parents’ early response was a wise move. Noting that parents use games consoles and iPads to reward, distract or calm their children, Dr Graham urged people to find a healthy balance.

If your child gets agitated when their phone is taken away, prefers to talk online rather than in real life, and gets defensive if their habits are questioned, it could be time to pay attention.

Eleanor Harding, Daily Mail.

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