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More teens find value in abandoning smartphones

June 06,2015
After replacing his smartphone with an older second-generation (2G) network cell phone on which only text and voice calls are available, 17-year-old Hwang Min-ho’s life drastically changed.

Now the high school student, who previously spent each morning at school reading online cartoons, is reading books and studying English.

After dinner, he would concentrate on his mobile games, but now he goes out to play basketball with his friends.

“Without the smartphone, I usually go to bed earlier,” he said. “I think it helps me concentrate on my classes at school.”

Like Hwang, more teenage students are looking toward older cell phones, realizing that more high-tech smartphones have interrupted their everyday lives.

Jeong Ok-young, 17, said she likes her new 2G cell phone because she doesn’t have to care what her friends talk about on mobile messaging applications, which operate only on smartphones.

“[When I was using a smartphone,] I often struggled to stay awake during class because I talked with my friends on mobile messengers the whole night,” she said.

Experts have long advised that teenagers spend less time on their smartphones.

“The more time teenagers spend on smart phones, the less time they have for exercise, sleep and conversation with family members,” said Bhang Soo-young, a neuropsychiatry doctor at Eulji General Hospital in Seoul.

After surveying 121 experts last year, the Korean Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry recommended that elementary school students only use their smartphones for 55 minutes each day.

It added that the recommendations for middle school and high school students are 96 minutes and 115 minutes, respectively.

Excessive attachment to their smartphones can also have an influence on teenagers’ emotional development, Bhang said.

Other experts stress that parents should be good role models when it comes to using smartphones.

“Now parents are competing over smartphones,” said Kim Dong-il, an education professor at Seoul National University. “To make children less reliant on smartphones, parents have to spend more time with their children.”

BY CHUN IN-SUNG [nam.yoonseo@joongang.co.kr]


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