Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Addiction to Internet Games

We revisit again the  problem of internet game addiction of the young. A professor emeritus in preventive medicine of the Catholic Medical School writes in the Culture of Life column in the Peace Weekly that the level of addiction is serious.

A survey made last year of 123,000 students from a 4th grade grammar school and a 1st year middle school found about the same level of addiction in the grammar school as it did in the middle school-- over 5 percent. Another survey of students, age 9 to 19, found that 14.3 percent, or about 100,000, were addicted  and in need of therapy.

The effects of this frightful addiction are not limited to the excessive amount of time spent in gaming. The effects are also felt throughout society, as our young people, becoming languid and spiritless, withdraw from society. This addiction, like alcohol and drug abuse, can lead to mental and physical health problems and complete lose of self-restraint. The very young who take up internet gaming are even more susceptible to being harmed, and the prognosis less hopeful. And for some, depression and suicide are possible outcomes.                                                                                                                                                           Even though the facts are clear the government still views the problem of internet addiction as an individual problem. To promote the internet industry, they are willing  to accept this dysfunction. The Korean market for internet games is vast, and the foreign news media see this economic fact as not unrelated to the addiction. The income from the internet game industry this year is expected to increase by 17 percent. The professor wonders how many more problems are we going to have before the harm is seen as serious.

The evening shutdown of the games--promoted by a number of groups--from 12:00 midnight to 6:00 am is a help, the professor admits. But in the society we have made, simple regulations alone, he insists, are not going to remedy the situation--urgent problems need urgent remedies.
The Catholic Church, with its on-going interest in promoting the culture of life, should be especially interested in developing programs to wean our young people away from the lure of internet gaming, and its potential for harm, into pursuits that will benefit both the individual and the society. 


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