Children treated for mobile addiction

Two Spanish children, 12 and 13,  are being treated in a psychiatric clinic for addiction to mobile phones, in what is thought to be first case of its kind in the country. They were admitted by their parents who discovered that their children were doing badly at school and lying to relatives to get money to pay their mobile bills.

Apparently the children were spending six hours a day on calls, SMS and video games. According to The Guardian newspaper, prior to their parents realising things had gone badly wrong, the children had had their phones for 18 months and had been left to use them without supervision.

The psychiatrist treating them said although the children had been phone-free for three months, it would probably take a year to overcome their dependency altogether. The doctor also said that phones should not be given to children under 16.

The Guardian article said, "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%."

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