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Spanish kids treated for mobile phone addiction

End up in psychiatric center to break dependency

Two students aged 12 and 13 are being treated for an addiction to mobile phones at a psychiatric center in northeastern Spain, the Spanish newspaper El Mundo reported yesterday.

They were brought in after spending an average of six hours a day on their phones, talking, texting or playing games, a report in the UK's Telegraph said.

Their parents became concerned as both children – who had had their own phones for 18 months – were failing at school and deceiving relatives in an attempt to obtain more money for phone cards.

Maite Utges, director of Lleida's child and adolescent mental health center, told El Mundo it would take one to two years of treatment to undo the habit.

The center is treating 20 children and teenagers for Internet addictions.

The average age at which a young person in Spain buys their first mobile phone is between 12 and 14, though experts recommend they should not have one before 16 years of age, the newspaper reported.

The Spanish government anti-drug agency estimates 10 per cent of adolescents in Madrid suffer from an addiction to their mobile phone or to the Internet, according to El Mundo.