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Internet Addiction: South Korea Has a Camp to Help Young People With Internet Addiction

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(Credit: Chung Sung-Jun/Getty Images) South Korean video gamers compete during the opening day of the World Cyber Games June 30, 2001 at HanYang University in Seoul, South Korea.World Cyber Games in South Korea
January 25
10:54 PM 2016

A camp in South Korea is dedicated to helping youngsters with internet addiction. The 27-day camp, called the National Center for Youth Internet Addiction Treatment, offers activities such as hiking, rock-climbing, and music learning, as well as stress-reduction classes.

South Korea is the most country on the planet. It's not uncommon for elementary school students to carry electronic devices such as smartphones. The country's network is also so sophisticated that people can live stream TV on most part of the city, even on the subway. That has come as an advantage to the Korean people but has also set some drawbacks, including internet addiction.

According to Korea Information Society, internet addiction has become a great concern in the country years before it was being detected in other countries. Korea's extensive and advanced broadband network puts Koreans in an advantage to experience online experiences before anyone else in the world. One example being Cyworld, a social networking service in South Korea which was introduced five years before Facebook and was then very popular among young people.

A recent survey concluded that about 10 percent Korean teenagers are addicted to the internet. The government has also shown initiative to help solve the issue. They endorsed Cinderella Law, also called as Shutdown Law in 2011, whereas children under the age of 16 could not play online video games from 12 AM to 6 AM.

The Washington Post reported on a visit to the camp that one of the camp's participant was so addicted that he had recurrent nightmares of him playing his phone, to woke up with a fright. Yoon Yong-won, like most other camp participants, felt despair when they were asked to turn over their devices. "I'm so frustrated. I feel like I'm being held captive," he uttered. 

The director of the camp program, Shim Yong-chool, noted that the government has been helping to solve the internet addiction problem. "The government has been promoting I.T and these kinds of devices, so the government helped create this problem. Now, the government's trying to help solve it."

The young people in the camp were sent by their parents or teacher after a standardized assessment for internet addiction. Almost 5,000 teenagers were sent to this camp last year.

Other than the National Center for Youth Internet Addiction Treatment, there are other similar camps in South Korea with the same focus to help youngsters with their internet addiction. Charlotte's Morning News noted that it's too early to evaluate the effectiveness of such camps, especially in the long term. But it's proven to successfully take youngsters off their screens for a while, at least when they're in the camp.

The camp offers a lot of off-screen activity, and they hoped that the participants could manage their internet-use better after the camp. On the last day, the campers will again be assessed for internet addiction and would be required to make periodic visits to school counselors as follow-ups.

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