1. ITV Report

Digitally dependent Britain: Are toddlers addicted to tablet computers and smartphones?

81% of mums and dads worry about the psychological effect of iPads and smartphones Photo: Reuters

Toddlers are becoming so addicted to iPads and smartphones that they require therapy, experts have warned.

Parents who allow babies and toddlers to access tablet computers for several hours a day are at risk of causing "dangerous" long term effects to their child.

Earlier this week it emerged that the youngest known patient being treated in the UK is a four-year-old from the South East.

Toys are now able to interact with iPad games Credit: Rebecca Naden/PA Archive

The child has been enrolled for compulsive behaviour therapy because she would spend up to four hours a day using her iPad, and became increasingly “distressed and inconsolable” without it.

Dr Richard Graham from London's Capio Nightingale Clinic launched the UK's first technology addiction programme three years ago, and is treating the four-year-old girl.

He said technology addicts experience the same withdrawal symptoms as alcoholics or heroin addicts, the condition prevents youngsters from forming normal social relationships and leaves them drained from the constant interaction.

Research shows half of all parents let their children use tablets or smartphones Credit: Reuters

Research shows half of all parents let their children use tablets or smartphones, but 81% of mums and dads worry about the psychological effect, with many toddlers throwing tantrums when gadgets are taken away.

Psychiatrists estimate the number of people who have become digitally dependent has risen by 30% in the last three years.