Internet Addiction – We should learn from South Korea
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South Korea is one of the most connected countries in the world with 99% of its 51 million population having access to high speed internet connection. The capital Seoul is the number one most connect city in the world.
South Korea's advanced high speed networks produce internet speeds that most countries dream dream of. The development of such an advanced system has, though come at price with 1 in very 10 children suffering from internet addiction symptoms.
The government has become so concerned with the populations addiction figures that they have trained more than 1,000 counselors who specialise in internet addiction. They have also opened more than 200 Internet Addiction Counselling Centres and Digital Boot camps across the country to help their children overcome digital addiction.
Australia may not be in the same league as South Korea when it comes to internet connectivity or the sheer volume of children suffering from addiction. But that's only because they are many years further down the digital development road than Australia.
Equally, Australia may not have the speed of South Korea's network, but with Australian city connection figures pushing 88%, it is only a matter of time before they do. The big point is when full connection capacity happens what state will our population be in?
South Korea was one of the first countries to develop high speed internet connectivity and they were also one of the first countries to discover the problems of internet addiction.
Shouldn't we be following their lead and looking to create more awareness in schools to help children, parents and teachers understand the potential dangers of excessive screen use. It's an addiction with similar symptoms to those displayed by someone who suffers from gambling addiction.
Teachers Education Assistants and School Counselors are very much in the front line when it comes to teen usage of digital devices. With around 64% of student internet usage through the education system it is very important these people understand the symptoms.
Schools are already overloaded and pushing more work onto the overloaded education system won't work unless they get government support. They do, however have an important role to play in promoting internet addiction to families.
Families need to be more aware of the issues of internet addiction and schools are the perfect vehicle to promote this. It will help to build closer ties between schools and families as both can work together to monitor internet use and behaviour . Families will have to share some of the responsibility and set up digital rules for the home. Teachers, Education Assistants and School Counselors can help support this process by monitoring the student at school.
Internet use is not going to go away and all parties need to be educated on the risks of excessive screen use. If we don't sit up and smell the coffee soon we may all be in line for a dose of the South Korean cold turkey system.
If we are proactive and start to promote this issue now we may avoid some of the problems South Korea currently faces. The cost of tackling the issue early may not be cheap but the cost of ignoring the issue could be far greater.
Sometimes prevention is the best cure.