“I don’t have a problem,” Chang-hoon said in an interview three days after starting the camp. “Seventeen hours a day online is fine.”

The New York Times
has an article about a South Korean boot camp for kids with Internet addictions. South Korea, which claims to be the most wired nation on the planet, recently held an international symposium on Internet addiction . According to a government study, 30% of its youths under 18 (this people would be Digital Natives) are at risk for Internet addiction. With dramatic stories like gamers dying after gaming binges (one such case), Internet addiction is becoming an increasingly discussed phenomenon in Asia. In the United States, however, the American Psychiatric Association does not officially recognize Internet addiction as a disorder, though some argue that it should.

To go off on a slightly tangential idea, the question on my mind is whether this is a matter of a generational shift. Seventeen hours a day, like the kid quoted above, is excessive, but where do you draw the line? When most people think of Internet addiction, they probably think of gaming, yet what most Digital Natives spend hours online doing is socializing. Even in Internet gaming, the social interactions with fellow gamers is an important component. Meanwhile, for the average teenager, “I’m addicted to Facebook!” is an excuse for procrastination I often hear (and occasionally use), yet is it correct to characterize this as an addiction if you’re building and reinforcing social networks? The answer will probably be colored by your opinion on the quality of online social interactions. Either way, Internet use is becoming increasingly common and even necessary in today’s digital world.

-Sarah Z.

Be Sociable, Share!