• 21 MAR 10
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    #1231: UK rehab clinic for technology addicts founded

    Sent in by Iris Atzmon:

    The Telegraph (UK)

    Link: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/health/children_shealth/7467200/Rehab-clinic-for-
    children-internet-and-technology-addicts-founded.html

    Rehab clinic for children internet and technology addicts founded
    Britain’s first internet rehab clinic has been founded amid fears children
    as young as 12 are addicted to the web, computer games and mobile phones.

    By Andrew Hough

    18 Mar 2010

    School children on computers: Rehab clinic for children internet and
    technology addicts founded
    The clinic has been founded amid fears that some children were damaging
    their health by their overuse of computers. Photo: ALAMY

    Capio Nightingale Hospital, in central London, has launched the first
    addiction service which allows young people to go ³cold turkey² from their
    technology compulsion.

    The service, which will be offered for children as young as 12, comes amid
    growing concerns about children’s behaviour with technology which puts their
    health at risk and has led to police being called to sort out family
    disputes.

    Children will be forced to go ³cold turkey² from their technology use as
    well as being encouraged to cut out any problem use, such as computer games,
    and restrict the time spent using their phone or computer.

    They would also be taught face-to face social skills at a residential unit.

    It also encourages them to think about their relationship with their phone,
    computer games or social networking websites like Facebook and teaches them
    skills to help them to switch off.

    The treatment package may also include a look at body image and physical
    health if the addiction has affected the child’s confidence, activity levels
    or diet.

    The treatment aims to increase off-screen social activities and improve the
    person’s confidence in face-to-face situations, the lack of which may have
    made them more susceptible to technology addiction.

    Strategies to deal with online problems, like cyber bullying, may also be
    part of intensive in-patient care, group or individual therapy.

    Consultant psychiatrist Dr Richard Graham, who is leading the new addiction
    treatment, said services need to ”adapt quickly” to help young people
    affected by technology addiction – who he dubbed ”screenagers” – rather
    than sticking with the same treatment models used for substance abuse.

    He said a growing number of parents had told him about when their children
    flew ”into a rage” when they were told to turn off their computer.

    Police had even been called to sort out some rows, he added.

    Dr Graham said technology addicts, whom were like gambling addicts, were
    hyper-stimulated so they were ”always on the alert” and could suffer
    withdrawal symptoms like agitation.

    ”I’ve been contacted by parents who see their children going into a rage
    when they’re told to turn off their computer. Some end up having to call the
    police,” he said.

    Dr Graham 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.”

    ”What we need are official guidelines now on what counts as healthy or
    unhealthy use of technology,² he told the London Evening Standard.

    ”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.

    ”We have found that many of the existing services fail to recognise the
    complexity of these situations, borrowing from older models of addiction and
    substance misuse to very limited effect.

    ”This is why Capio Nightingale Hospital has launched the first Young Person
    Technology Addiction Service, which we hope will address the underlying
    causes of this addiction to transform screenagers back into teenagers.”

    Other clinics, including The Priory, offer treatment for internet addiction
    but have no dedicated service for young people.

    A spokeswoman said the service will be offered for children as young as 12
    but those aged 15 to 17 are expected to be the main target group.

    She said the service did not aim to make children give up technology use
    completely, instead they are encouraged to cut out any problem use – like
    computer games – and restrict the time spent using their phone or computer.

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