A pre-school child is receiving psychiatric treatment for compulsive behaviour because she is obsessed with playing games on her iPad, using it for up to four hours every day.

Her concerned parents sent the girl for therapy at the Capio Nightingale Clinic in London because she became "inconsolable" when the tablet computer was taken away from her.

Her psychiatrist Dr Richard Graham said: "The child's mother called me and described her symptoms.

"She told me she had developed an obsession with the device and would ask for it constantly," he told the Mirror.

"She would become very distressed and inconsolable when it was taken away.

"In the year running up to contacting the clinic, the parents noticed her use of the iPad was escalating. She was using it three to four hours every day and showed increased agitation if it was removed."

A recent survey reveals that more than half of parents questioned let their babies use a smartphone or tablet, and one in seven let them use the gadgets for four or more hours every day.

Dr Graham's advice to parents is to keep iPads out of sight of infants. "Children see all the pretty colours and they will want to use it too.

"They can't cope and become addicted, reacting with tantrums and uncontrollable behaviour when they are taken away. Then as they grow older, the problem only gets worse."

There are concerns that the iPad is killing off toys, with iPads and smartphones becoming the new dummies for babies and toddlers.

Gadgets for babies and toddlers is a new market, such as the iPotty from CTA Digital that is a potty training toilet with an iPad dock attached. It's also possible to buy a cover for the iPad that is baby drool proof.

Too much too young? The iPotty from CTA Digital keeps kids occupied while they learn important skills
Too much too young? The iPotty from CTA Digital keeps kids occupied while they learn important skills

In China, parents are increasingly alarmed by babies and toddlers becoming hooked on the internet and electronic gadgets.

Han Lei, the mother of a five-year-old, says the iPad has become an indispensable baby sitter. "Like many other parents, at first I was amazed by the fancy iPad functions and bought one loaded with interesting games for my boy," she told People's Daily Online.

However, she now appreciates the dangers of over-reliance on computers.

"He spends more time playing on it [the iPad] and doesn't seem to care whether I'm around. It's terrible that the iPad is indispensable to his little world, but his mother is expendable."