Australia: Special unit to help kids with severe internet addiction

Posted on February 25, 2014

Photo: flickr

Victorian kids as young as eight are becoming hooked on computer games and the internet, with some refusing to go to school, suffering anxiety and depression, getting violent and withdrawing socially.

Mental health professionals say the condition, called "pathological internet use", is a rising problem, with one describing it as a "ticking time bomb" among Australia's youth.

In extreme examples, teens have spent up to 15 hours a day glued to games like World of Warcraft, only breaking to use the toilet.

Child psychiatrist Dr Philip Tam, who specialises in treating internet addiction, is pushing to standardise diagnosis and treatment globally.

"We are sitting on a ticking time bomb - a very large portion of the children and teenagers that I see in clinic has an addiction or overuse problem to some extent," said Dr Tam, co-founder of the Network for Internet Investigation and Research Australia.

The Herald Sun understands Australia's first dedicated treatment unit is earmarked for Sydney with sufferers to be checked into a youth mental health ward for longer-term stays.

The in-patient clinic would aim to restore sleep patterns, treat underlying mental health issues and encourage healthy digital use.


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