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South Korean Parents Send Children To Digital Detox Boot Camp, As Internet Addiction Crisis In The Country Worsens

by Czarelli Tuason / Sep 15, 2015 12:01 PM EDT
Team South Korea at the 4th Asian Indoor & Martial Arts Games | By: Chung Sung Jun | Getty Images

South Korea is one of the most wired countries across the globe. It is usually the country's younger generation that is held captive as kids spend most of their hours on games and other activities online. Thus the government has established a digital detox boot camp in response to the situation.

With approximately 2 million of its population addicted to the internet, South Korea regards the issue as a national health crisis that needs to be addressed immediately.

ABC News reported on Monday that internet-addicted teenagers are sent on a 12-day digital detox boot camp where every day is begun with exercises. The said boot camp is located in remote mountain areas where accesss to techonology and the internet is minimal, if not impossible.

In the first few days of the boot camp, teenagers are encouraged to socialize with one another as most of them only have friends online. One of the digital detox boot camp's main goal is to re-establish children's connection with the real world, and put their virtual addiction behind them.

The facilitators and counsellors of the boot camp help in making these kids realize that there is so much more productivity and life in the real world than burying themselves, along with their dreams, in the fictitious world of internet gaming.

"We teach them methods to self-manage their emotions and the desire to use the internet so they can continue to use them when they go back home," said the boot camp's counsellor Shim Yong Chool who also stressed on the importance of applying what the kids have learned in the digital detox boot camp back at home for the intervention to succeed.

One-on-one counselling is also being offered in the boot camp in order to identify and address the underlying issues which cause the addiction such as personality issues and family problems.

According to the Business Insider on Mar. 25, one in 10 South Koreans from ages 10 to 19 are addicted to the internet. This poses a problem since most of these kids have yet to map out a clear career plan for the future. Goal-setting is important nowadays as South Korea continues to address issues on unemployment.

"The notion of addiction treatment has changed," said neuropsychiatrist Gangnam Eulji Hospital Dr. Lee Jae Won on the clinical aspect of addressing internet addiction. Dr. Lee said that unlike treating drug addiction in which the goal is to completely stop the unnecessary intake of drugs, treating internet addiction aims to regulate a person's internet usage.  "For example, the goal of treating someone with a drug addiction problem would be for the person to stop taking drugs completely."

"But for internet addiction treatment, it's not about avoiding using the internet as a whole," he added. "It's more about a patient being able to control their use of the internet like a normal person. That is when we can say that they are cured."

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