Archived Story

Raising addicts?

Published 12:04pm Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Hide your iPads. They’ve been found to be harmful to babies and toddlers.


In fact, a UK family recently sought treatment for their 4-year-old who demonstrated compulsive behavior when the iPad was taken away from her.  She became obsessed and would ask for the tablet computer constantly and was inconsolable when it was taken away from her.


Sound familiar?


Anyone with a toddler has witnessed similar behavior related to everything from a favorite pacifier to a favorite movie. However, few parents have sought professional help for said behavior.


So, where do we draw the line? Are Americans more tolerant of this sort of behavior than our British counterparts?


Dr. Richard Graham, who launched the United Kingdom’s first technology addiction program three years ago, said the 4-year-old was not the only pint-sized addict out there.


The little addicts experience similar withdrawal symptoms as alcoholics or heroin addicts when technology devices are take away from them. Graham said the condition would interfere with the child’s ability to form social relationships.


“Children have access to the Internet almost from birth now,” Graham told the Sunday Mirror.


A quick search for “baby apps” on a droid produced more than 21,000 results. Kids are like little sponges. The more they are exposed to, the more they learn. But, where should parents draw the line?


“They see their parents playing on their mobile devices and they want to play 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,” Graham said. “They can’t cope and become addicted, reacting with tantrums and uncontrollable behavior when they are taken away. Then as they grow older, the problem only gets worse.”


The good doctor offers a 28-day “digital detox” for anyone who cannot put down his or her cell phone or video game.


Sure, you’re laughing now. But, try turning off your cell phone for 28 days. You’ll be crying like an addicted 4-year-old, guaranteed.


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