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‘Korea Has Highest Internet Addiction Rate’

Posted March. 24, 2008 06:53,   


An American psychiatrist says Korea has the world’s highest rate of Internet addiction.

Dr. Jerald J. Block of Oregon Health and Science University calls Web addiction a kind of psychical disorder, and that some of the most interesting research and countermeasures are coming out from Korea.

In the latest issue of the American Journal of Psychiatry, he said Internet addiction is a common disorder that merits inclusion in the “Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.”

He described Korea’s Web addiction situation, citing materials released in an international symposium last year by the Korea National Youth Commission.

After a series of ten cardiopulmonary-related deaths in Internet cafés and a game-related murder, Korea considers Internet addiction one of its most serious public health issues, Dr. Block said.

Korea has 1,043 counselors to treat computer addition and 190 hospitals and treatment centers are operating in cooperation with schools.

According to data released by the Korean government, about 210,000 children between ages six and 19 are Web addicts and require treatment. About 80 percent of those needing treatment could require psychotropic medication and between 20 and 24 percent could need hospitalization.

Dr. Block also raised the severity of Korean teenage Internet addiction, saying, Korean high school students spend an average 23 hours a week on gaming and another 1.2 million students are believed to be at risk for addiction.

He also warned that China is no exception given the growth of Internet addiction among its people. In the United States, he added, exact data is lacking because unlike in Asia where Internet cafés are prevalent, games and virtual sex in the United States are accessed from home.

Dr. Block also warned that unless doctors pay attention, it’s quite difficult to detect the condition since the average patient has 1.5 other diagnoses related to mental disorders. In Asia, however, therapists are being trained to screen Web addiction, he said.