Spanish Children Get Treatment for Addiction to Mobile Phones

by Gopalan on  June 13, 2008 at 5:15 PM Lifestyle News   - G J E 4
 Spanish Children Get Treatment for Addiction to Mobile Phones
Two children in Spain are under treatment at a mental health institution for addiction to their mobile phones.

The two, aged 12 and 13, could not carry out normal activities without their handsets, their parents despaired.

They were doing badly at school and lying to relatives in order to get money to spend on their phones.

They have been learning to cope without their phones for three months.

Dr Maite Utges, who runs the Child and Youth Mental Health Centre in Lleida, near Barcelona in north-eastern Spain, said it was the first time the clinic had treated children who were dependent on their mobile phones, BBC reported.

"They both showed disturbed behaviour and this exhibited itself in failure at school. They both had serious difficulties leading normal lives," she was quoted in Spanish papers as saying.

Fears of mobile phone "dependency" have emerged in several countries. Japan has warned parents to limit phone usage because of side effects in children who overuse them. At least two cases have been reported in Britain of young people obsessed by their phones who became depressed when incoming calls or messages dropped off.

"I get about one or two calls a month from parents about this," Mark Griffiths, a chartered psychologist at Nottingham Trent University, said. "A lot of modern things are not genuine addiction, it's habitual behaviour. Not having access gives short-term withdrawal symptoms."

A study last year by the children's ombudsman in Madrid found that 30% of children between the ages of 11 and 17 felt "extremely oppressed" when their phone was taken away from them. Another study by the Spanish Institute for National Statistics last year found that 65% of children between 10 and 15 had a mobile phone. In 2004 the figure was 45.7%, Guardian newspaper said.

Utgès said parents should not allow their children to have mobile phones until they were at least 16.

Source: Medindia

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