Are You Off the Computer Yet?


           Jennifer, a 15 year old girl, used to spend 16 to 18 hours on the computer everyday. She would lock herself up in her room and surf the Web. Her mother would constantly worry about her daughter's health and behavior. "I didn't know what to do with her. Whenever I would knock on her door and tell her to go outside, she would yell at me." She said. Soon enough, her mother decided to send her to a program for internet addiction. "I'M PERFECTLY FINE!" Jennifer yelled.     

             (Picture from http://www.superfastcomputer.com/)

What is internet addiction?

           Internet addiction is described as an impulse control disorder which does not involve the use of a drug and is similar to pathological gambling. Web obsession has a few signs. These indications would mostly be the following:

  • v Preoccupation with the internet.
  • v Use of the internet in increasing amounts of time in order to achieve satisfaction.
  • v Repeated unsuccessful efforts to control, cutback, or stop internet use.
  • v Feelings of restlessness, moodiness, depression or irritability when attempting to cut down use of the internet.
  • v Online longer than originally intended.
  • v Jeopardized or risked loss of significant relationships, job, educational or career opportunities because of Internet use.
  • v Lies to family members, therapist, or others to hide the extent of involvement with the Internet.
  • v Use of the Internet as a way to escape from problems or to relieve feelings of hopelessness, guilt, anxiety, or depression.

(Info was found from http://www.minddisorders.com/Flu-Inv/Internet-addiction-disorder.html)

Why is it a problem?

        Internet addiction is a problem worldwide. For example, although South Korea boasts about being the most wired nation on the earth, up to 30 percent or about 2.4 million South Koreans under 18 are at risk of web obsession. According to the New York Times, in recent years in Korea, computer users started to drop dead from exhaustion after continually being online for days.Not only is it a problem worldwide, internet addiction affects many people's lives. More students have been skipping school to go online at home and have developed self-destructive behaviors. People with this addiction may also have many financial problems. These money problems could occur because of the significant amount of time spent online and the service provider charges.


                                                   (Picture from New York Times)

 So, Has Anything Been Done Yet?

            Fortunately, the government has already started to get involved by building a network of 140 Internet addiction counseling centers. Even a boot camp was made for this major issue in a forested area about an hour south from Seoul. The camp held its very first two 12 day sessions this year. Participants live in a computer-free camp where they are only allowed an hour each day to talk on their cell phones. They have to engage in physical and group activities such as horseback riding so that their connections to the virtual world lessen. They are also constantly watched even on breaks and are kept busy.

 "I had to do an essay on internet addiction before. When I found out the something was being done, I was quite relieved." said Ying Chi, a student from Mega.

            After a month in the program, Jennifer was shocked to learn that she had been neglecting school and would go on the computer for hours. "I don't know what I was doing before, but I am happy I am not doing it now."