Popular Posts

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Internet addiction an epidemic in Korea

Compulsive Internet use has been identified as a mental health issue in other countries, including the United States. However, it has reached epidemic levels in South Korea because of the country’s nearly universal Internet access.

According to an article that appeared in the New York Times, itt has become a national issue in recent years, as users started dropping dead from exhaustion after playing online games for days on end. A growing number of students have skipped school to stay online, shockingly self-destructive behavior in this intensely competitive society.

Up to 30 percent of South Koreans under 18, or about 2.4 million people, are at risk of Internet addiction, said Ahn Dong-hyun, a child psychiatrist at Hanyang University in Seoul who just completed a three-year government-financed survey of the problem.

They spend at least two hours a day online, usually playing games or chatting. Of those, up to a quarter million probably show signs of actual addiction, like an inability to stop themselves from using computers, rising levels of tolerance that drive them to seek ever longer sessions online, and withdrawal symptoms like anger and craving when prevented from logging on.

To address the problem, the government has built a network of 140 Internet-addiction counseling centers, in addition to treatment programs at almost 100 hospitals and, most recently, the Internet Rescue camp, which started this summer. Researchers have developed a checklist for diagnosing the addiction and determining its severity, the K-Scale. (The K is for Korea.)

In the US, the prevalence of Internet addiction appears less than Korea with estimates of 5 to 10 percent of the population who suffer from the problem. The issue of Internet addiction continues to raise significant concern as more therapists see clients who suffer from Internet-related problems, including online gaming, online affairs, Internet pornography and Internet gambling addictions.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Treating Internet Addiction

The October issue of the CyberPsychology & Behavior Journal published the first study to examine treatment outcomes with Internet addicts. The study conducted by the Center for Internt Addiction Recovery examined 114 patients over 12-weekly sessions and upon six-month follow-up after termination. Results showed that clients gained symptom management by the 3rd session and were able to maintain complete recovery after 12 sessions and at six months after treatment ended. The main and most successful treatment with Internet addicts is cognitive-behavioral therapy and the study supports that CBT is the primary therapy to use in treating Internet addiction. This is the first study to examine specific treatment variables with Internet-addicted patients and shows long-term potential in treatment recovery.

To learn more please read the full article published by Mary Anne Liebert entitled, "Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy with Internet Addicts: Treatment Outcomes and Implications" is published by CyberPsychology & Behavior, Vol. 10, No. 5, pages 671-679 (October 2007).