Children addicted to using electronic devices may suffer from “internet-use disorder”,a newly discovered and serious mental illness,according to a new study.
Psychologists argue video game and internet addictions share the characteristics of other addicts,including emotional shutdown,lack of concentration and withdrawal symptoms if the gadgets are removed.
The formal inclusion of this new addiction in a worldwide psychiatric manual has been welcomed by Australian psychology professionals in response to a wave of “always-on” technology engulfing kids,the ‘Sydney Morning Herald’ reported.
“With kids,gaming is an obvious issue. But overall,technology use could be a potential problem”,said Mike Kyrios,Professor of Psychology.
Other fallout can include devastating impacts for children and families as social interaction and even food are neglected in favour of the virtual worlds the children inhabit.
Australian experts contributed to the Australian Psychological Society’s submission to the international manual,supporting the inclusion of an addiction focused on internet gaming.
The inclusion acknowledges risks posed by over-use of seemingly benign technologies,classifying internet-use disorder alongside other mental disorders that need further research before becoming a recognised mental illness that can be formally diagnosed.
Kyrios said once more research is invested in the disorder,it would allow health professionals to diagnose children with addictive behaviours from technology overuse and treat them appropriately,including strategies to change their obsessive over-reliance on being connected.
He said children with underlying obsessive compulsive disorders could be at risk from technology overuse.