Thursday, April 22, 2010

South Korea Targets Internet Addicts

South Korea, considered the "most wired" country in the world, is targeting some 2 million users it calls "internet addicts." 90% of all households in South Korea have Internet access, and "PC rooms," or Internet cafes, dot the landscape. Authorities say they are limiting access to popular online games, and sending counselors to schools to speak with children.

Three, popular online games will have a "curfew" from midnight to 8am for children under 18, and people will be able to download and install Parental Control-ware, which will similarly limit the availability of online games. The government is investing $9 million in the effort.

Recent violence blamed on internet addiction have alarmed the country and made headlines around the world. One man bludgeoned his mother to death with a hammer for trying to keep him offline, then played games for hours, using her credit card. Last month, a couple let their baby starve to death while they "raised" a virtual child online.

Experts admit "Internet addiction" is often an effect, caused by underlying psychological issues; it is a manner of "acting-out." They say the Internet is too readily-available in the country, which has lead to the current, troubling climate surrounding the Web and, in particular, online games. They claim nearly 30% of all South Koreans, adults and teenagers, are addicted to Web-based games.

© C Harris Lynn, 2010

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