Apr 30, 2008

Internet addiction problem in Asia

After a series of 10 cardiopulmonary-related deaths in Internet cafés and a game-related murde, South Korea considers Internet addiction one of its most serious public health issues.

Using data from 2006, the South Korean government estimates that approximately 210,000 South Korean children (ages 6–19) are afflicted and require treatment. About 80% of those needing treatment may need psychotropic medications, and perhaps 20% to 24% require hospitalization.

Since the average South Korean high school student spends about 23 hours each week gaming, another 1.2 million are believed to be at risk for addiction and to require basic counseling.

In particular, therapists worry about the increasing number of individuals dropping out from school or work to spend time on computers.

As of June 2007, South Korea has trained 1,043 counselors in the treatment of Internet addiction and enlisted over 190 hospitals and treatment centers. Preventive measures are now being introduced into schools.

China is also greatly concerned about the disorder. The Director of Addiction Medicine at Beijing Military Region Central Hospital reported 10 million Chinese adolescent Internet users meet Internet addiction diagnostic criteria.

As a result, in 2007 China began restricting computer game use; current laws now discourage more than 3 hours of daily game use.

In the United States, accurate estimates of the prevalence of the disorder are lacking. Unlike in Asia, where Internet cafés are frequently used, in the United States games and virtual sex are accessed from the home.

Attempts to measure the phenomenon are clouded by shame, denial, and minimization.

To face this growing situation, society have to discuss more about new habits related to new technologies use.

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