Hi-Tech addiction is tearing families apart as parents and kids often spend more time with screens than people, Victorian counselling experts say.
Dale Stephenson, pastor of Crossways Church, which offers a family counselling service, said a growing number of mums, dads and kids were no longer properly communicating.
"Family time ends up with every face buried in a screen - often a different screen for each person," Mr Stephenson said.
"Technology overuse is an insidious mainstream addiction that's destroying families."
Mr Stephenson said that in the past year, about 250 families have sought counselling to help them manage screen addiction and over-use of technology - more than half of the 470 families seeking help each year through the church.
It comes as psychological experts are pushing for "internet-use disorder" to be officially recognised as an international mental condition.
Psychologists say video game and internet addictions can affect children as young as seven who become aggressive, irritable and hostile when screens are turned off.
Mr Stephenson said the disorder was affecting parents and children alike.
"Mums and dads are continually working, and are responding to work emails well after they've left the office for the day," he said.
"Parents are frustrated that the kids don't want to just go outside and play."
Melbourne psychologist Andrew Fuller said kids were "addicted to technology like human beings are addicted to oxygen".
"We know that when kids play video games, their dopamine is stimulated, and so it is hard for them to walk away and to get motivated to do other things."
Psychologist Jodie Benveniste, founder of Parent Wellbeing, said families needed to set rules.
"Kids need opportunities for outdoor and other creative play, and to get bored, and that won't happen if they have too much screen time," she said.
Box Hill South dad Steve Fogg is conscious of the need to restrict the technology access of his three children, Jonah, 10, Isabella, 6, and Sienna, 4.
"We live quite a digital life, we have multiple screens, from phones to iPads to computers. It can be an ongoing family challenge, but we do regulate the children's screen time."
He said Jonah earns media time through doing chores, and family dinners are a screen-free zone.
"It's just about learning what works for you," he said.
By Susie O'Brien, Herald Sun
Source: The Daily Telegraph - http://goo.gl/IP6R9