We’re in danger of raising a generation of technology addicts, say psychologists. And, parents are being urged to do more to prevent their children becoming too dependent on their smartphones, tablets and other gizmos.
According to new research, youngsters are becoming increasingly addicted to mobile phones in a condition called nomophobia.
Figures released by technology company SecurEnvoy show around two thirds of young adults have the modern-day condition.
With that statistic possibly set to soar even further, chartered psychologist Carie Schuster said it was up to parents to make sure their children don’t develop nomophobia.
“The common indicators of having nomophobia are people who have an addiction to the internet or to other forms of technology,” she explained. “It is common for people to suffer withdrawal symptoms and some people find it difficult to be separated from their devices.
“Some people even free up their time just so they can use technology, which is another clear indicator of having nomophobia.”
Dr Schuster, who is an expert on the causes and effects of stress, said the use of technology in schools should be regulated and, at home, limits should be imposed on the amount of time children can spend on their mobile phones and tablets.
While Dr Schuster said technology itself was “not a bad thing” and could be a useful teaching tool, she added: “It has to be regulated by the schools. Parents at home also have a duty to monitor their children’s use of technology and make sure they do not become addicted to their mobile phones and computers.”
Dr Schuster said levels of the condition may have “reached a peak,” but she added: “It is difficult to know if the amount of people with nomophobia will increase. I wonder if we might have reached a peak because more and more people are talking about the over-use of technology these days.”
Dr Schuster’s calls for parents to prevent technology addiction come after another study, released earlier this month, which found 90% of people aged under 30 suffered from the fear of having no mobile phone.
The survey, conducted by Cisco, found those people had an addiction to their smartphones and became anxious when it went missing. Cisco’s chief technology officer Kevin Bloch said they saw the smartphone as an extension of themselves, from the moment they woke up in the morning until they fell asleep. Bloch said these people checked their texts, emails and social media at least once every 10 minutes.
It also follows warnings that toddlers were becoming so addicted to smartphones and tablets that they required psychological treatment.
Dr Richard Graham, who launched the UK’s first technology addiction programme three years ago, spoke of a four year old patient whose parents asked for help after she became increasingly “distressed and inconsolable” when an iPad was taken away from her.
The condition nomophobia was first identified five years ago after a study then revealed that more than half of people in the UK were sufferers