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Surprising Science

Tech Addiction: The Preschool Version

A new survey reveals that some British parents let their young children interact with mobile devices for four or more hours a day. One psychiatrist reports that children as young as four are now being treated for addiction.

What’s the Latest Development?

According to a recent survey of more than 1,000 parents by the British Web site, more than half let their babies play with their smartphone or tablet, and one in seven lets them use the devices for four or more hours daily. Apparently some children have become addicted to the point where their parents are paying lots of money for behavioral therapy. Richard Graham, who founded the first program in the UK designed to treat “technology addiction,” says that he knows of a patient who is only four years old, and believes she’s probably not the only one.

What’s the Big Idea?

For years various experts have warned about the negative effects of too much screen time — television, computer, etc. — on children’s development. Graham says today’s mobile technology gives children “access to the Internet almost from birth…It’s difficult, because having a [smartphone or tablet] 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.” Four or more hours of daily exposure is especially problematic when you consider that “babies between 3-12 months are awake for only around 10 hours per day,” says managing director James Macfarlane.

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Read it at The Telegraph


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