South Korea has been named the “most wired” city on the planet. About 70 percent of South Korea’s 50 million people have smartphones — the highest penetration rate in the world, according to the market research firm eMarket.
Parents are very worried about the impact this is having on their teens as well as very young children. This concern is shared around the world, but South Korea has taken it a step further. The South Korean government is getting involved stating, “We felt an urgent need to make a sweeping effort to tackle the growing danger of online addiction… especially given the popularity of smart devices.”
This unique initiative requires schools to teach classes on Internet addiction. They even took it a step further by organizing holiday “boot camps” to wean students off their dependency.
Here are some alarming government statistics that led to this decision:
According to government data, more than 80 percent of South Koreans aged 12 to 19 owned smartphones in 2012, doubles the 2011 figure.
Nearly 40 percent of those spent more than three hours a day tweeting, chatting or playing games — despite attempts by teachers to confiscate all devices at the beginning of the day and return them when classes are over.
An annual government survey estimated that nearly 20 percent of teenagers were “addicted” to smartphones.
Addiction was defined by a number of criteria, including anxiety and depression when separated from a smartphone, a repeated failure to cut back on usage time, and feeling happier using smartphones than being with family or friends.
It may be even shocking to learn that this is not a problem exclusive to adults, children and teens, it is also affecting preschoolers. Here are some alarming facts to regarding this, “Many young mothers nowadays have their babies play with smartphones for hours to have some peace at home, which I think is really dangerous,” Lee Jung-Hun, a psychiatrist at the Catholic University of Daegu. The younger you are, the easier it is to become dependent,” he said.
The “boot camp” discipline focuses mainly on the use of smartphones due to the fact that many feel parents have less control over their children using smartphones than they do with the use of PCs.
A former schoolteacher stated, he had experienced extreme cases where children had threatened parents with violence or self-harm when their smartphones were confiscated.
The “boot camp” has shown positive results on the alarming addiction.