The frightening thing about this is it took about 20 years before health officials could see the real need for techaddiction rehab.
Internet rehab clinic for 'screenager' children hooked on modern technology
By Daily Mail Reporter
Last updated at 7:51 AM on 18th March 2010
Tech addicts: Teenagers hooked on computers and mobile phones will be treated in the first rehab clinic of its kind.
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 - where singer Amy Winehouse was treated for drug addiction - 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, including The Priory, 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