Internet addiction clinics aren’t exactly a new thing, but South Korea has found the problem of Internet addiction to be so pervasive that they have set up a clinic not to deal with addiction, but to prevent it. StarCraft is a huge deal in South Korea to the extent that it is a professional sport, and it seems that this national obsession, in conjunction with the Internet at large, is having a negative affect on the nation’s youth.
The children at the camp who show warning signs of becoming raging internetaholics spend their time playing reality-based games, taking hikes, reading books and going to counseling sessions, all without the aid of internetahol. Because large-scale Internet connectivity and personal computers are relatively new to South Korea, many parents are simply at a loss to help their children find a healthy balance.
Doctors at the camp find that there are two distinct kinds of potential addicts, those who are in love with the anonymity of the Internet and those that enjoy the power and the vicarously violent behavior games provide. Both of these categories, of course, fit into the super category escapists who, for one reason or another, prefer the “wide web” part of the world. Patients at the camp often play video games to the exclusion of sleep and bathroom breaks, and according to Geek.com, one patient expressed that he gets angry when his parents call him away from the computer and that he knows this is bad but stopping is “too hard,” which is why he’s looking for help.
Clearly, the South Koreans see Internet addiction as a serious problem, which is good for them because it can be, especially when the phenomenon has hit so hard, so fast and kids are involved. It is certainly better to be safe than sorry, but as someone who was once a child who exhibited those symptoms at one point or another and turned out fine (depending on who you ask), I think it might be a little overkill. And I had a computer in my home, while most South Koreans turn to Internet cafes. That fact, however, adds another note of seriousness to potential addiction, increasing the amount of isolation from family that Internet use involves and, of course, adding an hourly fee. Better to nip the problem in the bud, but I swear, if this pro-prevention sentiment cuts into the legitimacy of StarCraft as a world-wide international sport, those doctors are going to have to answer to me.