Children more prone to Internet addiction

Young children were found to be more susceptible to becoming addicted to the Internet than adults, with 7.9 percent of children aged between five and nine addicted to the Internet using computers and other portable devices such as smartphones and tablets, a study said Monday.

The study was conducted by the Ministry of Public Administration and Security in conjunction with the National Information Society Agency late last year.

It is the first time for those aged under 10 to be included in the annual research, and also the first time for Internet use via smartphones and tablets to be included.

The study was conducted on 663 children, 2,130 teenagers and 7,207 adults.

In the research where participants self-checked their Internet use and related conditions, 7.7 percent overall were addicted.

The addiction ratio was 10.4 percent for teenagers aged 10 to 19 and 6.8 percent for adults aged between 20 and 49.

The average figure of 7.7 percent in 2011 was down from 8 percent in 2010.

But among them, the ratio of those with high risk, who show problems in their daily lives and withdrawal symptoms, increased to 1.7 percent from 2010’s 1.4 percent.

The addiction slightly decreased among teenagers compared to the previous year, while it increased among adults.

The addiction ratio was also relatively higher among people in lower-income brackets and teenagers in multicultural families or single-parent families.

“The total addiction ratio dropped, but the increase of high risk groups indicates we need more intensive treatment. Also, as the ratio is high among children, education, counseling and parents’ guide for proper use of the cyber tool should be given to younger children,” the official said.

Smartphone addiction

From the 2011 study, a self-check list for smartphone addiction was newly introduced.

According to the research, 8.4 percent of those surveyed were addicted to smartphones.

“A quarter of the Internet addicts were also smartphone addicts. Among the high risk group of Internet addiction, 43.8 percent were addicted to smartphones as well,” the official said.

Smartphone addicts used the devices for 8.2 hours a day on average, while non-addicts did for about 3 hours.

By age, those in their teens and 20s, who are relatively accustomed to using digital devices, were more prone to smartphone addiction.

To curb the Internet and smartphone addiction ratio, the government will strengthen education and counseling programs for all age groups as well as offer medical treatment for high risk groups. <Korea Times/Kim Rahn>

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