In the youngest case of mobile dependency, a nine-year-old boy from Haryana slashed his forearms with a kitchen knife when deprived of a smartphone, the Indian Express reported. The class IV boy was operated upon by surgeons who referred him to a consultant psychiatrist, Dr Rajiv Mehta, at Sir Ganga Ram Hospital at Rajinder Nagar here. Dr Mehta told the Indian Express that since both parents were working and couldn’t spare much time for the child, they resorted to providing him a mobile phone. As an infant, his mother would give him her phone so he could be easily fed. At four the parents gifted him his own handset. The mother is a lecturer while the father is a businessman. The boy got dependent on the phone and wouldn’t have his meals without watching either YouTube videos or playing games on it, he said. Dr Mehta said that the boy spoke about his relationship with the mobile phone, preferring it over outdoor games. The parents were also counselled separately and admitted to never forcing the child to go out so as to keep him away from bad company, according to the report.
About a year ago the boy started showing withdrawal symptoms, tension and anger when separated from the phone. His eyesight also weakened and was prescribed spectacles. His doctor advised the parents to limit his screen time but by that time the addiction had taken over. Dr Mehta told the Indian Express that the child would bang his head on the wall if removed from his phone. The recent violent behaviour ensued. According to Dr Mehta mobile dependency is akin to substance abuse.
It affects social and occupational life but the person, while aware, is unable to control his actions, he said. Much like drug dependency, the child felt socially isolated, angry and tensed when withdrawn from the gadget. The doctor told the paper that the child is on anti-depressants and have been suggested alternative ways of living like meeting other children, having hobbies, playing, and listening to music for relaxation. Dr Mehta also said that parents are advised spending more time with the child in a gadget-free environment till he turns 13. At least a meal a day and walks together are also advised to the parents.