It’s now routine for kids to get their first tablet or smartphone before they even start elementary school.
One addiction expert thinks that’s causing a public health crisis — and some of his anecdotes about young digital addicts are staggering.
Nicholas Kardaras, a clinical specialist at an addiction clinic based in East Hampton, New York, relayed a few harrowing stories from his forthcoming book in a story published in The Observer on Wednesday.
Sometimes, when kids have their phones or tablets taken away, they go through symptoms that sound like withdrawal. From the Observer article:
When parents do try to take electronic devices by force, children sometimes get aggressive — one of Kardaras’ patients went into convulsions when her mother took her phone and laptop away. She then repeatedly uttered the phrase “I’m gonna be alone” and threatened to hang herself, at which point she was taken to a psychiatric hospital.
Another example Kardaras cites is the story of a young man who played so much “World of Warcraft” that he was unable to distinguish reality from Azeroth, the game’s setting. That patient had to be taken to a psychiatric hospital, too.
Kardaras says he’s observed over 1,000 teenagers in the past 15 years, and that’s what informed his perspective on digital addiction.
He blames the video game industry for the problem, which he says “has a financial stake” in making their games addictive. He also thinks that school programs that give iPads to children — which have been supported by companies like Apple — may be making things worse off.
His book, “Glow Kids: How Screen Addiction Is Hijacking Our Kids — and How to Break the Trance,” will include a sample letter that parents can use to try to opt-out of school programs.
While Kardaras’ concerns could be exaggerated — he does stand to gain financially from a boom in screen addiction — there is a significant portion of Silicon Valley parents that agree with his premise. Even former Apple CEO Steve Jobs, the inventor of the iPhone and iPad, limited the technology his kids used at home.
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