Young children are ‘becoming addicted’ to tablets

by Doug Drinkwater

April 22 2013

Parents often use an iPad as a digital pacifier, according to Dr Richard Graham
Parents often use an iPad as a digital pacifier, according to Dr Richard Graham

As news filter through of a four-year old child becoming 'addicted' to Apple’s iPad, a leading psychiatrist warns that long-term tablet usage could have big repercussions for young children.

British newspaper The Mirror reports that a four-year girl in England is being treated by a psychiatrist for her iPad ‘addiction’, with the child apparently experiencing withdrawal symptoms when her parents take the tablet away.

Her psychiatrist, Dr Richard Graham from the Capio Nightingale Clinic in London, said that there must be many more addicts of the same age, and even said that his patient risked requiring in-patient care had she gone on to use the iPad as she was (four hours a day) up until 11.

"Children have access to the internet almost from birth now," said Graham, who charges £16,000 (approximately $24,000) a month for a “digital detox program” that weans patients off tablets and other digital devices.

"They see their parents playing on their mobile devices and they want to play too. Sometimes I think advice on internet use should be part of antenatal classes.
“Don’t leave your iPad around because if you do, and children see all the pretty colours they will want to use it too. It’s difficult, because having a device can also be very useful in terms of having a reward, having a pacifier. But if you don’t get the balance right it can be very dangerous.
“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.”

This news is bound to come of some concern to most tablet-toting parents, not least because a recent study detailed that more than half of parents let their babies or small children use a tablet or smartphone. 

The same study revealed that one in seven parents give their child access to one of these devices for four or more hours a day.

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  • jeparsons
    1 year 7 months ago

    This would seem a lot more credible if Dr. Graham did not offer a $24,000/month "detox program." Where's the peer-reviewed study data showing actual addiction? This is the faux video game addiction hysteria all over again.

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