Friday, July 16, 2010

Al Jazeera Spotlights Web Addiction in Korea

Al Jazeera English's program 101 East did a special on South Korea's increasingly higher growing levels of internet addiction.  Here's their promo blurb about the episode:
South Korea is one of the world's most wired countries. Up to 90 per cent of homes have high speed broadband internet access and 24-hour internet cafes are found on almost every street corner.

But this ready access to the web has come at a price, with the government classifying two million South Koreans as "internet addicts".

Much of this obsession is with online gaming, a problem that has long been treated as a teenage affliction.

But recent trends reveal a more worrying problem - growing numbers of adults are falling into online gaming obsessions and the consequences are severe, sometimes at the cost of lives.

Users have dropped dead from exhaustion after playing online games for days on end.

Earlier this year a young couple was sentenced when their baby died from malnutrition after the parents spent nightly 12-hour sessions on the net living in an online world.

The government is spending millions to educate the public about the dangers of internet addiction and to fund counseling centres for the web obsessed but the problem appears to be growing.

This week on 101 East, we look at the impact of internet addiction as more and more South Koreans get caught in the web.
The episode captures perfectly well the current situation in the country.

Internet addiction is real.  I was once an addict to online gaming back in 1999-2000 to an online World War II strategy game.  I was in high school at the time and it became my life.  I only existed in the real world so I could make it through the day and play online every afternoon and sometimes all night.  I lost all my friends and I was near failing out of school.  My father had to have an intervention and I was forced to give up playing any kind of video games at home for the rest of high school.

That was ten years ago, I cannot imagine how more appealing now are the better graphics, faster internet speeds, and more addicting games like World of War Craft.  This is a growing epidemic in developed countries (especially amongst teenage boys) and it needs to be recognized and treated like any other compulsive or chemical addiction.



Josh said...

I agree with you. It is a serious problem in Korea...and other parts of the developing world.

I've had the same problem and..well actually I still do with the emergence of facebook and 24 hour news feeds from any news network in the world...I've found myself always trying to connect to facebook or my preferred news networks any chance I can get and then can spend hours browsing...sometimes even just waiting for something new to show up.

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