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Ultra-wired South Korea battles smartphone addiction

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Posted June 27, 2013
Children display their smartphones after a special class on smartphone addiction, at an elementary school in Seongnam, south of Seoul, on June 11, 2013. South Korea, after boasting for years advanced technology from high-speed Internet to Samsung smartphones, is now taking pains to try to pull its tech-crazed youth away from digital addiction.

Children display their smartphones after a special class on smartphone addiction, at an elementary school in Seongnam, south of Seoul, on June 11, 2013. South Korea, after boasting for years advanced technology from high-speed Internet to Samsung smartphones, is now taking pains to try to pull its tech-crazed youth away from digital addiction.

Kim Nam-Hee pulls no punches as she warns a classroom of wide-eyed South Korean 10-year-olds that they stand on the edge of an addiction that will turn them all into “mindless slaves”.

The grim presentation by the social campaigner follows a survey with the loaded title: “Who’s your real family?” It asked the students to compare the hours they spend on their smartphones with the time they spend interacting with relatives.

South Korea’s pride in its high-tech prowess, from ultra-fast broadband speeds to Samsung’s cutting-edge smartphones, is now tinged by anxiety over digital addiction—with even pre-school children showing symptoms of IT obsession.

The country has long promoted Internet technology as a key driver of growth, and the capital Seoul is often referred to as the “most wired” city on the planet.

About 70 percent of South Korea’s 50 million people have smartphones—the highest penetration rate in the world, according to the market research firm eMarket.

But the country’s fixation with everything digital has parents worried about its impact on young—sometimes very young—children. The concern is shared around the world in other advanced economies, but the South Korean government has gone furthest in its response.

“We felt an urgent need to make a sweeping effort to tackle the growing danger of online addiction… especially given the popularity of smart devices,” the science ministry said when it announced a policy package on June 13.

Read more at: Phys.org

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