Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 17 April 2014

Warning over child 'addiction' to smartphones and gaming devices

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More young children are showing signs of becoming "addicted" to gadgets such as smartphones and gaming devices, psychologists have warned.

Children are having problems concentrating in school and have motor skills worryingly below their appropriate age because they are spending "hours" playing computer games each day.

One professional recently treated a 10-year-old who had gashes on his knuckles after lashing out in his sleep as a result of becoming agitated and aggressive after hours of playing the violent 18-rated 'Grand Theft Auto'.

Educational psychologist Dr Catriona Martyn, who is based in Dunmore, Co Galway, said there were also concerns about concentration levels in school but parents are often surprised when it is linked with the use of gadgets.

Educational psychologist Anne Staunton warned that research had to begin "sooner rather than later", saying she had noticed evidence among schoolchildren that gaming and playing on devices "can become an addiction".

This comes as research in the Britain reveals how young technology addicts experience the same withdrawal symptoms as alcoholics or heroin addicts when the devices are taken away.

A technology addiction programme was set up three years ago by Dr Richard Graham, of the Capio Nightingale clinic in London, who said the condition prevented young people from forming normal social relationships, leaving them drained by the constant interaction.

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