South Korea Admits ‘Digital Addiction’ Afflicts 2.5 Million Kids

South Korea Admits ‘Digital Addiction’ Afflicts 2.5 Million Kids

Kids in South Korea really love their digital gadgets. That's probably true of children around the world, but in South Korea, handheld devices are creating a "digital addiction" for millions of young ones, even kids as young as 3 years old. Instant messaging on the go, high resolution gaming in the palm of your hand, and ubiquitous Internet access are all staples for smartphones and other mobile devices, creating a culture of digital communication and entertainment that didn't exist until relatively recently.

South Korea's government estimates that some 2.55 million people are addicted to smartphones, using their devices for 8 hours a day, and sometimes more, Fox News reports.

"I get nervous when the battery falls below 20 percent," said Park Jung-in, an 11-year-old who sleeps with her Android phone. "I find it stressful to stay out of the wireless hotspot zone for too long."

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Image Source: Flickr (Zawezome)

What's interesting about Park's case, and others like her, is that despite her attachment to her Android phone, she appears to be otherwise well adjusted. She participates in class discussions, gets along with friends, and has found a hobby in cooking. Even still, she set off more than eight red flags on an addiction test, deeming her an unhealthy dependent on her smartphone.

Kim Jun-hee, a kindergarten teacher who conducted an eight-month study on Internet safety and addiction education for pre-school children, isn't really surprised. She notes that kids are surrounded by mobile technology all the time, from strollers with smartphone holders to watching movies on tablets in grocery store carts.

"I've been teaching at kindergartens for more than 10 years now but compared to the past, kids these days are unable to control their impulses," Kim tells Fox News.

Overuse of cell phones and other such devices can lead to physical problems, like turtle neck syndrome, which is caused by leaning the head forward for extended periods of time, and pain or numbness in the fingers and wrists. Apparently it can also lead to horrible name selections when having a kid.
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I think they need to narrow their definition of addiction a bit. In my humble opinion, a habit is only an addiction when it starts to harm other aspects of your life or lives of others. Spending your free time messing with your phone isn't really an addiction unless it's gettingi n the way of your social life, work, or even financial well-being.

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Perhaps they should reword the article to say "Technological Gluttony" instead of addiction. 

On a more serious note.  In South Korea, gaming and all the related interested that are considered social stigma's in the US, are much more widely accepted there.  So I could see how reports of excessive use would draw media attention here in the states.  As long as you're happy and aren't hurting others, I saw do what you please.

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I agree with Sackyhack...

The rest of the world has no business in how I spend my free time, unless I am harming others, or hindering their way of life in some way.

However, I do think that there is a line where you should know to stop.

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Additional stress from being "outside a wi-fi hotspot zone" or "without the comfort of your mobile device nearby" can definitely be seen as harmful to a persons mental health and aspects of life.

"Technological Gluttony" would be considered over-consumption of technology but I don't know if that's the case since their not necessarily buying unecessary amounts of tech but consuming HIGH amounts of media through technology, and with the wealth and diversity of media I can almost see how that exposure COULD be a good thing in certain circumstances. But the balance between time spent in the digital world compared to physical could definitely be considered gluttonous

Korea definitely has a lot of social facilitation into digital media and technology though, bucking the trend and leaving that "digital world" is almost like ostracizing yourself from society and the people in your environment since that's where so many people are for 8+ hours of the day apparently

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