Hooked to net, gadgets? Child health goes for toss

Study finds 73% teenagers using Internet suffer from ‘psychiatric distress’
Kochi: Does your child surf the Internet for long hours or feel distressed when his mobile phone is not within reach? If he does, there could be reason for concern. While mental health professionals are stopping short of calling such behaviour a disorder , they warn the New Generation addictions are taking a toll on children.
A study by the National Institute of Mental Health and Neuro Sciences (NIMHANS), Bangalore, in several cities, including Kochi found that 73 per cent of teenagers using the Internet suffer from ‘psychiatric distress,’ and that children in the age group 13 to 17 are mostly addicted to Facebook.
“Like the study says, children are now suffering from gadget addictions, like for instance, with WhatsAPP . It’s normal to use these gadgets say for half an hour or so, but their prolonged use in one sitting amounts to obsessive compulsive disorder that can affect their heath, communication and social behaviour ,” warns Dr Aniamma George, senior consultant psychiatrist, General Hospital, Ernakulam.
“These addictions can be termed New Generation disorders.The biggest challenge is that there are no apparent symptoms in children suffering from them. You realize what the problem is only after a prolonged interval and by then they may be too addicted. For example, they may want to surf the Net even on exam days. We’re coming across many such cases and the children are usually hyperactive and lagging behind in real life skills,” says Dr Anoop Vincent, Associate Professor, Sree Narayana Institute of Medical Sciences, Chalakka.
Sadly, there is no focused research and policies on subjects like Internet addiction in the country, he rues. “Children are getting involved in social media at too young an age despite the restrictions. Parents have a responsibility to monitor them online. How many of them know that there is an age restriction on having a Facebook page (13 years)? ” he asks.
Dr Vivek U, consultant psychiatrist, Renai Medicity, urges parents not to give their children mobile phones until they have done their Plus Two. “Many parents feel the phones allow them to keep track of their children. But even so they don’t need to give them smart phones,” he says.
( Source : dc )
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