South Korea has seen a number of internet-related tragedies in recent years
The number of teenagers addicted to the internet has fallen to 3.9 percent from just under five percent a year ago, according to a government survey released yesterday.
Kim Sung-byuk, an official at the Ministry of Gender Equality and Family which conducted the survey among 1.74 million fourth graders, said results showed unhealthy internet usage among teenagers was continuing to decline in what is one of the world’s most wired nations.
South Korea has seen a number of high-profile deaths related to internet addiction in recent years, including a case in 2010 in which a 15-year-old boy strangled his mother and then committed suicide during an argument over his online gaming.
“The risks associated with internet use must be taught to teenagers,” said Father Bartholomew Choi Gi-hong, director of the Culture and Communications Department at Chunchon diocese. “And outdoor games where they can play together must be provided too.”
Lee Ji-young, a counselor at the Korea Youth Counseling Institute, agreed that soccer and board games represented more wholesome alternatives to online games such as Diablo 3, a May 15 release that has already attracted a huge following in internet cafes across the country.
“Most teenagers do not acknowledge their internet addiction,” she said.
Kwon Jeong-in, an adviser at the Division of Youth Media Environment, said the government remained committed to running programs that aimed to identify those that need help.
“We will help them by classifying addicted teenagers into groups according to their level of addiction,” he said.
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