iPad Addiction Seen in Toddlers

A new report has found that toddlers may develop an addiction to the ubiquitous iPad device, among other technologies.

According to the report published by The Sunday Mirror, a four-year-old has become Great Britain’s youngest iPad addict, said CNET. The example discussed the toddler becoming engrossed on the device for up to four hours daily, a large part of a young child’s waking day that typically lasts about 10 hours for the average toddler.

“Although at this stage her use isn’t a sufficient concern to warrant in-patient care, it would be if her addiction continues to the age of 11, when she has access to other platforms like smart phones and the Internet,” Dr. Richard Graham told The Sunday Mirror. Graham heads the Capio Nightingale Clinic in London, England, said CNET, which specializes in digital detoxification and weaning technology addicts from their gadgets.

The girl began using her iPad when she was three years old, playing with it for four hours a day. She is now in outpatient treatment at the clinic, said The New York Daily News. “The child’s mother called me and described her symptoms,” Graham told The Sunday Mirror. “She told me she had developed an obsession with the device and would ask for it constantly. She would become very distressed and inconsolable when it was taken away. In the year running up to contacting the clinic, the parents noticed her use of the iPad was escalating. She was using it three to four hours every day and showed increased agitation if it was removed,” Graham explained.

Although the little girl in this example is Graham’s youngest patient, there are probably many more technology addicts in this demographic, he said. It is the parents responsibility to set limits on children’s gaming and Internet use, said Graham, according to the Daily News. Internet use should be a significant focus in antenatal classes, said Graham. “Sometimes I think advice on Internet use should be part of antenatal classes,” he told The Sunday Mirror.

“Don’t leave your iPad around because if you do, and children see all the pretty colors 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,” Graham noted, said the Daily News. Graham believes that these addictions are similar to addictions seen with drugs and alcohol and says they are rather common, wrote CNET.

Expressing aggression or becoming violent when devices are taken away is a fairly common response in young technology addicts, experts told the Daily News.

It’s possible that the addiction begins as a simple case of children mirroring their parents’ involvement with technological devices and are seeking to do the same, said CNET. The issue, say psychologists, is that when the toddlers grow, they will be unable to enjoy normal interactions with their peers, said CNET.

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