14 out of 100 S. Korean teenagers addicted to Internet or smartphones

May 28, 2015
South Korean high school graduate Yoo Hye-jin checks her smartphone during a graduation ceremony at Sungkyunkwan University in Seoul, South Korea, Wednesday, Feb. 25, 2015. (AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon)

South Korean high school graduate Yoo Hye-jin checks her smartphone during a graduation ceremony in Seoul, South Korea. (AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon)

By Kim Se-jeong

Fourteen out of every 100 South Korean teenagers are addicted to either their smartphones or the Internet, according to a survey released Thursday.

The survey conducted by the Ministry of Gender Equality and Family showed that the number of students who have an addiction to either the Internet or smartphones is 208,446, which is 14.6 percent of the 1.42 million students surveyed. Last year, this number was 242,406, or 15 percent.

The ministry said that 49,398 of the students, or 3.5 percent, are addicted to both the Internet and their smartphones.

Students who fall into this category are unable to have a normal life due to their addictions and need professional help.

The ministry questioned 1.42 million students in the fourth, seventh and tenth grades across the country for the survey.

This is the most comprehensive survey ever carried out by the ministry on the usage of the Internet and smartphones among teenagers. It was first conducted in 2009.

Addictions among younger students also showed a significant increase.

The number of fourth graders addicted to both the Internet and smartphones this year is 7,973. Last year, it was 5,967. Meanwhile, 32,245 fourth grade students are addicted to either the Internet or smartphones, a rise from 26,693 last year.

“What’s alarming is that the age for addiction is becoming younger,” said a ministry official. “We need a comprehensive approach to curb these numbers. We need to divert students’ attention toward other exciting activities. We also think parents’ guidance is very important here.”

The ministry has been offering counseling services to children with addictions. Last year, it launched summer counseling camps for teenagers designed to “disconnect” themselves from the Internet and smartphones. The government announced that it will offer more camps this summer. Some camps also invite parents to be participants.


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