Internet addiction is a growing problem for the whole world: estimates show that from 5 to 10 % of world population have this problem. Internet addiction is defined as any online-related, compulsive behavior which interferes with normal living and causes severe stress on family, friends, loved ones, and one’s work environment (Johnson, 2009). Internet addiction has been called Internet dependency and Internet compulsivity.
On one hand, Internet should not be regarded as a means of addiction. “Addicted Internet users are addicted to a favored kind of social stimulation and not to the Internet itself, although it is also true that the Internet has made it vastly easier and more convenient for someone to develop such a compulsion”(Bocij, 2006). Therefore, those who tend to become addicts in real life. Have the same chance of becoming Internet addicts. On the other hand, the availability of Internet, propagation of new online possibilities and the lack of moral and social responsibility are the main driving forces causing people to drive into Internet compulsion.
One of the countries most vulnerable to this problem is Korea, where 90% of population have Internet access. Korea is ranked fourth in the world by the amount of home broadband subscribers. Also, Internet cafes are wide-spread, and Internet access is rather cheap. The problem of Internet addiction has already been closely examined and addressed by Korean government. To understand why this problem is so important for Korea, it is enough to analyze the statistics (Johnson, 2009):
– the average Korean high-school student spends 23 hours per week playing video games.
– 2.1 percent of children (from 6 to 19 y.o.) are affected severely enough to warrant treatment.
– about 80% of those who need treatment will also require medication.
– about 20-24% of those who need medication will also require hospitalization.
As one of the means for addressing this problem, a rescue camp for those who suffer Internet compulsivity was opened. The participants of rehabilitation programs arrive there and stay for a 12-day session. They are not allowed to use computers, and access to cell phones is limited by 1 hour per day. Also, lots of physical activities and actions aimed at establishing connection with real world are included.
Other actions of Korean government aimed at addressing the growing umber of Internet addicts is the idea of regulating the amount of Internet access and filtering content; the hotlines for those suffering Internet addiction are already available. However, despite these, obviously reasonable decisions, there are many depraved actions of the government related to the expansion of Internet dependency. For example, the availability of Internet and online gaming is a disease that has distracted many people (especially teenagers) from real life. However, government supports the online gaming industry and maintains Korea’s status as the capital of world gaming – for example, the world championship on computer games takes place in Korea. The biggest lie in all the situation is that though everyone is aware of Internet addiction, the government still supports and promotes the Internet cafes and uncontrolled usage of resources there, and does not make global attempts to address the situation. Though local solutions for those who are already addicted have been invented (and in this situation Korea is the pioneer – it managed to recognize such social problems which haven’t been identified clearly in other countries yet), there is no sound solution for turning people, especially young people, with their face to real life.
In my opinion, though Internet popularity itself should not be blamed for causing addiction, the tardy actions of the government and its “dual standards” – which encourage computer gaming business and internet cafes – together with the lack of adequate social programs for youth have partly added to the dimensions of the problem. However, current concern of the government and its set of actions aimed at reducing Internet addiction and its causes indicate that the problem has been recognized. Therefore, I believe that in future the number of Internet addicts and those in the “risk zone” will reduce.
Bocij, Paul. (2006). The dark side of the Internet. Greenwood Publishing Group.
Johnson, Nikola F. (2009). The Multiplicities of Internet Addiction. Ashgate.