Over 140,000 Korean teenagers are addicted to the Internet. Illustration.
According to official statistics in 2018, more than 140,000 Korean teenagers are addicted to the Internet and this number can actually be much higher.
Therefore, the country appears to be more and more detoxification and support centers for young people. Schools also offer special programs to try to prevent children from Internet addiction right from the beginning.
Recently, Newsround's reporters came to Korea to visit Muju Internet addiction camp to learn more about this issue.
Internet addiction is a situation where a person uses the Internet so much that affects his or her physical or mental health, or even both. This can also affect human behavior and ways of interacting with the real world.
Addicts can lose awareness of time or ignore their daily basic needs like eating, sleeping, and resting. Like other addictions, Internet addicts also feel unusually angry or sad.
Electronics are confiscated when patients enter the treatment center. Photo: BBC
At the Internet addiction treatment center, patients can come to get help about unhealthy Internet use. They will learn to live more independently with the virtual world and change their thinking about spending time on the Internet.
Since 2014, more than 1,200 young people have visited Muju Internet addiction centers. Here, regulations are strictly set. They have to hand over all electronics, absolutely no use of phones, even things like straighteners. Courses at this center usually last 1 to 4 weeks, depending on the level and status of participants.
Learners will also participate in practical activities such as making crafts, sports, team play, staying away from digital devices and returning to the real world. In addition, psychological sessions are also conducted to help people express themselves.
These activities help campers find true happiness, make them more comfortable instead of getting "likes" and "comments" in the virtual world. Experts will advise them when to stop using the phone and how to enjoy life meaningfully.
"Here, we try to introduce them to alternative activities for Internet, video games or social networks. We want to show young people their own values and confidence outside. network world ", Center director Yong-chul Shim shared.
Healthy collective games help patients get rid of Internet addiction. Photo: BBC
Hawon – a 17-year-old girl – treated at the Internet addiction center because of her addiction to watching YouTube every day. "Sometimes I spend up to 18 hours a day to watch. I even bring my phone into the bathroom, while I eat, I also take it. Once I pick it up, it is difficult to stop.", Hawon shared.
Hawon said life in Korea is very stressful, especially for young people who face expectations of academic achievement. Hawon admits that he views YouTube primarily to make himself feel happier.
But this caused great impacts on her life. "Addiction to Youtube has a big impact on your schooling. I just talked to friends over the phone, not communicating directly. I often fall asleep in class and often get angry with you without cause. ", Hawon said.
She is aware that this is a serious problem to be solved and decided to go to the rehab to do this. "I want to overcome that addiction, I want to observe all the good things going on around me instead of just looking at the phone. This is my chance to fix my problem.".