A 4-year-old girl in England is undergoing psychiatric treatment after being diagnosed as Britain’s youngest iPad addict.
The girl has been hooked on the device for over a year, according to her doctor who is charging her parents £16,000 (€18,720) a month to treat her.
The girl is one of many child patients displaying compulsive behaviour after using the device from an early age, doctors in Britain claim.
However, Irish experts say caution should be exercised in attributing her behaviour to the iPad and that it may be masking an underlying condition.
The little girl’s psychiatrist — Dr Richard Graham from the Capio Nightingale Clinic in London — said the problem might have become so severe she would have required in-patient care.
“Don’t leave your iPad around because if you do, and children see all the pretty colours, they will want to use it too,” Dr Graham told the Sunday Mirror.
“They can’t cope and become addicted, reacting with tantrums and uncontrollable behaviour when they are taken away. Then as they grow older, the problem only gets worse. Even the most shy kids, when they hit their teens, suddenly want to become sociable and popular.”
The UK’s national health system is set to recognise internet addiction disorder with the term listed in new manuals for GPs.
Dr Graham, who three years ago launched Britain’s first technology addiction programme, said he believed there were many more addicts of the girl’s age.
“The child’s mother called me and described her symptoms.
“She told me she had developed an obsession with the device and would ask for it constantly. She was using it three to four hours every day and showed increased agitation if it was removed.”
He said young technology addicts experienced the same withdrawal symptoms as alcoholics or heroin addicts when the devices were taken away.
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