Internet Rehab Clinic for ‘Screenager’ Children Hooked on Modern Technology

Daily News Article   —   Posted on March 18, 2010

Note: This article is from the British newspaper the Daily Mail.

(from London’s DailyMail.co.uk) – Children who are hooked on computer games, the internet and mobile phones are to be offered help at what is thought to be the first dedicated technology addiction service for young people in Britain.

The Capio Nightingale Hospital in central London…launched the new service for patients as young as 12 following calls from parents concerned about their children’s obsession.

Youngsters will be weaned off their gadgets in a residential unit and will also be taught face-to-face social skills.

Consultant psychiatrist Dr Richard Graham said parents had told him their children flew ‘into a rage’ when they were asked to turn off their computers and police had even been called to settle the rows.

Dr Graham, who is leading the new addiction treatment, said rehab 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.

‘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,’ he said.

‘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.’

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.

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.

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

Dr Graham told the London Evening Standard the technology addicts – who he compared to 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.’

He said: ‘What we need are official guidelines now on what counts as healthy or unhealthy use of technology.’

Other clinics…offer treatment for internet addiction but have no dedicated service for young people.

A spokeswoman for Capio Nightingale Hospital 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.

Reprinted here for educational purposes only. May not be reproduced on other websites without permission from the Daily Mail. Visit the website at dailymail.co.uk

Questions

1. What has the Capio Nightingale Hospital in London launched in response to phone calls from concerned parents?

2. a) How did these concerned parents say their kids reacted when told to turn off their computers?
b) Have you or anyone you know had this type of reaction?

3. What does Capio Nightingale attempt to do for kids who enter the program?

4. a) What age group will the program target?
b) Do you think younger kids who play video games etc. excessively should be included in this program, or should the isssue be handled in a different way? Explain your answer.

5. A spokeswoman for Capio Nightingale Hospital 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. Most kids can only use technology that is bought for them by their parents. What responsibility do parents have to teach their kids technology boundaries? What responsibility do parents have to restrict their kids’ use of technology?

6. What rules have your parents made for your technology use? (computer games, internet, cell phone, texting, etc.)

7. What do you think of the following comments made by readers that were posted at the end of the article at the Daily Mail website?

“…actually, the parents are the ones that need re-hab for being such wimps! These parents need a BACKBONE! Rehab for using a computer. What a joke!”

“There’s a simple solution to this parents, learn to discipline your children better and cut the net time down rather than spoiling them…its the parents to blame not the internet.”


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