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."

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.