Phone, Internet addiction among S. Korean teens on the rise

SEOUL, June 22 (UPI) — South Korean teenagers addicted to smartphones and the Internet have increased, according to an annual survey by the Ministry of Gender Equality and Family.

The survey, released Friday, asked some 1.2 million South Korean teenagers aged from 12 to 17 about their use of cellphones and Internet service. Fifteen percent said they are addicted, a 0.9 percent increase from last year’s figure.

Some 196,000 participants are categorized as “overly dependent” on smartphone and Internet use. The number of fourth graders in this category increased by 10 percent from last year to 55,467 this year.

More boys appear to have a digital addiction than girls among fourth graders, while girls are at higher risk of addiction among secondary school students, the survey found.

A total of 33,900 female secondary students show symptoms of digital addiction, more than 31,024 male students in the category of combined use of smartphone and Internet.

“Girls tend to be at higher risk of Internet addiction with the increase in mobile gaming and consumption of video content on video-sharing platforms such as YouTube,” said a ministry official in a statement.

The survey sorted students into four categories of digital addiction, such as the use of a smartphone, Internet and combined media.