14/08/2014 16:49 BST | Updated 22/05/2015 10:12 BST

Toddlers Are Having Therapy To Treat IPad Addiction

Toddlers are having therapy to treat iPad addiction

An expert has warned that babies are at risk of 'dangerous' long term harm if they are allowed to use tablet computers for hours on end.

Dr Richard Graham cited cases of toddlers become 'addicted' to iPads and similar devices and needing psychiatric treatment as a result.

The youngest known patient being treated in the UK is a four-year-old girl from the South East whose parents were concerned when she became increasingly 'distressed and inconsolable' when her iPad was taken away from her.

The little girl was given compulsive behaviour therapy for her addiction – which escalated over a year and led to her using the device for up to four hours a day.

Dr Richard Graham, who launched his £16,000 28-day 'digital detox' programme three years ago, said there were probably many similarly-aged children with technology addiction.

He said that when the devices are taken away, the children show the same withdrawal symptoms exhibited by alcoholics or heroin addicts

In the case of the four-year-old girl, Dr Graham said her mum had called him saying the child had 'increased agitation' if the computer was removed, and that she was 'obsessed' with it.

Dr Graham said that such an addiction could prevent youngsters from forming normal social relationships, and be left drained by the constant interaction.

He told the Sunday Mirror: "Children have access to the internet almost from birth now. They see their parents playing on their mobile devices and they want to play too. It's difficult, because having a device can also be very useful in terms of having a reward, having a pacifier. But if you don't get the balance right it can be very dangerous."

"They can't cope and become addicted, reacting with tantrums and uncontrollable behaviour when they are taken away. Then as they grow older, the problem only gets worse. Even the most shy kids, when they hit their teens, suddenly want to become sociable and popular."

The Telegraph reports that products such as baby-proof iPad covers and iPotties, which feature built-in iPad stands, are said to further fuel the problem.