Teenagers who cannot tear themselves away from the Internet, computer games or their mobile phone can get help from a new addiction service, a spokeswoman said Thursday.
A private London hospital has launched Britain's first dedicated technology addiction service for what it dubbed "screenagers", after parents complained their children were flying into a rage when told to turn off their computer.
Help will be offered through intensive in-patient, day care or group therapy to children as young as 12, although it is aimed at 15 to 17-year-olds, amid increasing concern about the amount of time they spend in front of a screen.
"I've been contacted by parents who see their children going into a rage when they're told to turn off their computer," Richard Graham, lead consultant at Capio Nightingale Hospital, told the London Evening Standard.
"Some end up having to call the police."
He said children played some computer games for the social contact, adding: "It gives them a sense of connection so they end up playing all the time."
Teens will be encouraged to switch off technology and interact with people face-to-face rather than online, a hospital spokeswoman said, and also helped with any problems caused by their habits, including cyber-bullying.
She cited research showing that adults who spent too much time online suffered physically and mentally, while young people became agitated and had difficulty concentrating, and ultimately could become depressed.
"Mental health services need to adapt quickly to the changing worlds that young people inhabit, and understand just how seriously their lives can be impaired by unregulated time online, on-screen or in-game," Graham said.
In a statement, he said he hoped the service "will address the underlying causes of this addiction to transform screenagers back into teenagers".