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Survey shows the effects of smartphone addiction

Apr 12,2014
One out of every five students residing in Seoul is addicted to smartphones, the city government announced on Tuesday, a trend it claims has contributed to a rash of societal problems, such as cyberbullying.

The figure is part of the results of a survey of 4,998 students in the fourth through 11th grades across 75 schools in Seoul who were evaluated over two weeks last November on a diagnostic scale developed by the National Information Society Agency.

Those who were categorized as “highly dangerous” and “potentially dangerous” were considered to be addicted to smartphone technology.

Of those surveyed, 2.9 percent proved to be highly dangerous, with 16.1 percent potentially dangerous. Smartphone addiction was more prevalent among females (22.8 percent) than males (15.9 percent), and in older students.

When it came to cyberbullying, 3.5 percent answered that they had been a perpetrator, while 3.7 percent said they had been a victim.

Cyberbullying refers to the act of harassing another person online through profanity, slander or spreading false information.

“Cyberbullying comes across as more merciless than [bullying in person] because the speakers are invisible,” said Lee Hoi-seung, the director of the city government’s children and news division.

“Teenagers blurt out whatever pops into their head in cyberspace, and they’re blind to the hurt reactions of their listeners [or readers].”

Results showed that the more addicted the subjects were to their smartphones, the more likely they were to be involved in cyberbullying.

The number of victimized students who fell into the “highly dangerous” category was three times larger than for ordinary smartphone users, while the number of abusers was about six times higher.

Subjects categorized as highly dangerous also tended to be more unsatisfied with their home and school lives.

The city government has conducted educational programs in local schools to prevent Internet addiction since 2007, which Lee explained have so far “more than doubled in demand.”

“Teachers and parents are eager to invite professional counselors to guide their children out away from the pitfalls of smartphone addiction,” Lee said, adding that those who received education proved to have a higher capacity for self-control.

BY LEE SUNG-EUN [selee@joongang.co.kr]




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