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‘Pulling knives on parents’: Kids’ addiction out of control

Written by on May 20, 2024

Some teens are so addicted to social media and online gaming platforms they are pulling knives out on their parents when cut off from the Wi-Fi.

Psychologist Dr Huu Kim Le who helps treat technological addiction said in some extreme cases children are “smashing doors, shouting” and showing “dysregulation behaviour”.

“You’ve got kids who are pulling knives out at home – ‘give me my Wi-Fi back. Give me my device back’ …,” Dr Le said.

And the troubling behaviour is starting younger than ever with this year’s Triple P parenting survey finding parents admit almost one in three toddlers aged under two are hooked on screen-based play.

“You watch the behaviour of people when they’re out and the first thing you see if a young child is restless in a restaurant or cafe, they’re handed a phone or an iPad,” the Australian Psychological Society’s CEO Dr Zena Burgess said.

And that addiction continues as they get older, often impacting on their schooling and mood control, with parents forced to seek out professional help.

“You’ve got kids who are going to sleep at two o’clock in the morning, they can’t wake up in the morning to go to school, miss out on school, get behind, get anxious,” Dr Le said.

News Corp Australia, along with parents from across Australia, are calling on the federal government to raise the age limit at which children can access social media to 16 as part of a national campaign,Let Them Be Kids, to stop the scourge of social media.


Experts said parents who want to manage their child’s access to social media have to take an open approach not a negative one and be humble and curious and ask questions.

“If we’re just negative about it. They’re not going to talk to us about it in the same way that they won’t talk to us about us if we say just don’t have sex, take drugs,” Headspace’s head of clinical leadership Nicola Palfrey said.

This approach will mean parents are then in a better position to say they’ve heard about bullying or gambling or sexploitation and be able to ask their kids is anyone has approached them online, she said.

Dr Burgess said more psychologists were needed in schools and private psychology sessions outside schools needed to be fully subsidised by the government for those aged 14 to 24 to help deal with mental health problems caused in part by social media.

“I could scream this from the rooftops. We really need psychologists in schools. That’s where kids spend a lot of their time. That’s when where problems can first emerge when children are under the age of 14,” Dr Burgess said.

If this story has raised problems for you please contact:

Lifeline: 13 11 14

Suicide Call Back Service: 1300 659 467

Beyond Blue: 1300 224 636

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MensLine Australia: 1300 789 978

Kids Helpline: 1800 551 800

13YARN: 13 92 7

Originally published as Australian kids’ social media addiction leads to ‘shouting, screaming, pulling knives out’