South Korean Government Sends Online Addicts to Boot Camp
Imagine being shipped off, kicking and screaming, to forested areas in the heart of Seoul, South Korea for boot camp rehabilitation. The victims are then subjected to military-style obstacle courses, counsellor-lead discussion groups and hobby classes designed to take their minds off their uncontrollable urges.
The addiction? Online Surfing.
South Korea is one of the most "wired" nations in the world. An astounding ninety per cent of homes are connected to cheap, high-speed broadband connections. Now, many are finding it impossible to pry themselves away from their computer screens. In many countries, compulsive Internet use has been identified as a mental health issue. Due to the nearly universal Internet access in the country, the situation in South Korea is even more severe. (Source: nytimes.com)
Here, it is not uncommon for students to cut classes in favor of surfing the net and in recent years, users have literally dropped dead from exhaustion after playing online games for days. To combat the national crisis, the government has intervened and established 140 Internet-addiction counselling centers and rescue camps to treat the most severe cases. The camp is funded by the government, making it entirely tuition-free. To meet the growing interest, camp counsellors have agreed to double the number of sessions next year. (Source: news.com)
This is the first year that the camp was open to the public. The classes were divided into two 12-day sessions, with 16-18 participants enrolled each time. During a typical session, participants live at the camp and are immediately denied any access to a computer. Cell phone use is also restricted to only an hour a day to prevent participants from playing online games via their mobile phone. (Source: nytimes.com)
Recruits also follow a strict regimen of physical exercise and group activities, like biking and horseback riding, aimed at building emotional connections to the real world while weakening their reliance on the virtual.
The success or failure of these camps will be a great indication as to whether or not other officials will implement similar camps in their own countries.
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