SALT LAKE CITY (ABC 4 News) - These days a lot of children are plugged into iPhones, iPads, computers and video games. It's a growing internet addiction. Now researchers say kids who spend several hours in front of a screen may be at risk of developing serious mental disorders.
According to reports, 'internet-use disorder' will be included in the May 2013 edition of 'Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders' (DSM-IV) as a condition "recommended for further study".
"It can become something that can be really real and damage a relationship," said Clair Mellenthin, the clinical director at Wasatch Family Therapy in Salt Lake City.
With things like video games and iPads, Mellenthin says kids are especially at risk of falling into this 'internet addiction'.
"It kind of skews their real world perspective because they're so entrenched in that fantasy," said Mellenthin.
Parents ABC 4 News spoke to say the problem they have is when they try to take the electronic gadgets away from their children.
"It wasn't until we started doing road trips that those movies in the car and the iPad became very resourceful," said Andrew Eberhardt, a parent of three from Bountiful. "The first fight [in the back of the car] is with his sister. The second fight is taking the iPad away."
In other instances, kids preferred to play a video game over eating or social interaction. The symptoms of 'internet-use disorder' are similar to other addiction disorders. They include emotional shutdown, lack of concentration and withdrawal and this isn't just a problem with kids.
"Some days I spend all day on it," Douglas Cotant said when asked if he was addicted to his computer.
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