People spend their time on smart phone while travelling in the Mass Rapid Transit train in Singapore on April 30, 2014. AFP PHOTO/ROSLAN RAHMAN
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Psychiatrists in Singapore are pushing for medical authorities to formally recognise addiction to the Internet and digital devices as a disorder, joining other countries around the world in addressing a growing problem.Singapore and Hong Kong top an Asia-Pacific region that boasts some of the world's highest smartphone penetration rates, according to a 2013 report by media monitoring firm Nielsen. Some 87 percent of Singapore's 5.4 million population own smartphones -- as Internet-capable phones with cameras are popularly known.Tan Hwee Sim, a consultant psychiatrist at The Resilienz Mind clinic in Singapore, noted that the symptoms exhibited by her young adult patients have changed over the years.Singapore's problem is not unique, with a number of countries setting up treatment centres for young Internet addicts, particularly in Asia where South Korea, China and Taiwan have moved to tackle the issue.In Singapore, there are two counselling centres -- National Addictions Management Services and Touch Community Services -- with programmes for digital addiction.Addiction is so pervasive in Singapore that a "cyber wellness" education programme for pre-school children -- and their parents -- is set to be launched in the second half of 2014 .
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