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Addicted to gadgets

Sunday’s horrifying incident of a teenager murdering a 10-year-old girl in a bid to steal her iPod has raised an alarming issue of how children these days have become gadget freaks. Sonal Kalra reports.

delhi Updated: Aug 20, 2008 00:13 IST
Sonal Kalra

Sunday’s horrifying incident of a teenager murdering a 10-year-old girl in a bid to steal her iPod has raised an alarming issue of how children these days have become gadget freaks and can go to any extent to fulfil their desires.

“The situation is alarming,” says Dr Jitendra Nagpal, Consultant Psychiatrist, VIMHANS. “Almost every other day, we get calls from Delhi schools to counsel troubled teenagers over the issue of mobile phones or other gadgets,” he adds.

The average age at which kids start aspiring for the latest gadgets has also come down drastically. Nagpal recalls an incident of an 8-year-old boy who turned violently abusive towards a sibling when denied access to a playstation.

These cases also mark an extension of what’s happening in the west. One case that made national headlines in the US in June was of two teenagers charged with robbing and killing a 15-year-old for an iPod.

Psychiatrists and clinical psychologists across Delhi claim to be dealing with cases of depression and maniac behaviour in adolescents over the inability to acquire a latest gadget or restriction on its usage.

Psychiatrist Dr Rahul Chandhok gets three to four cases a week where the child is depressed or becoming aggressive because of his addiction to gadgets.

“Youngsters are increasingly becoming materialistic and their cravings are on the rise. However, the extent to which it manifests itself in their behaviour depends on the personality traits. Some kids go into a shell while others become irritable. My recent case was of a boy who was showing severe depression because of the unending delay in getting an iPhone,” he says.

Dr Samir Parikh, another psychiatrist, says he gets lot of cases of gadget-related stress in children.

“If a child takes an extreme step like killing or attempting to kill, then gadget-related stress might not always be the trigger to it. Aggression as a whole is rising in children. They are seeing violence on TV, on roads and feel that it is a way of life. Thus, they don’t think much before taking a drastic step to acquire something.”

Parents, meanwhile, are a worried lot and are scrambling for psychological help.

In a counselling session, Mayank, father of 12-year-old Sarvesh said, “When I went to Europe recently on a business trip, I got my son the latest iPod. He spends most of his waking time with the iPod plugged to his ears and is the subject of envy amongst his friends. After reading about incidents like yesterday, I’m really at a loss on what to do.”

(With inputs from Neha Sharma)