With Internet addiction emerging as a serious social issue, the Gongju National Hospital in South Chungcheong Province has opened a clinic dedicated to the treatment of those caught in the Web.
This is the first time a national medical facility has launched anti-Internet addiction program here.
The five-week session helps Internet addicts as with other patients using diverse medical aspects.
Visitors to the “Save Brain Clinic” will take a written test, then a brainwave test to learn the stage of diagnosis. Therapies mostly designed for teenagers vulnerable to online games include group therapy, high-tech treatments such as transcranial magnetic stimulation and conventional academic curriculum sessions involving Korean language or mathematics, the hospital said.
“The recipients will not be medicated,” hospital official Lee Jae-won said. “Instead, they will learn how to overcome addictive computer use,” he added.
According to the Ministry of Health and Welfare, about 1.9 million people are estimated to be addicted to the Internet. It amounts to 8.5 percent of the population of Internet users in Korea.
Out of them, 938,000 are teenagers.
The authorities noted that excessive use of the Internet is not only a personal issue but also a social problem: The Korean Association for Policy Sciences projects that the socioeconomic loss from Internet addiction totals 10.1 trillion won ($9.3 billion). Also, crimes committed by Internet addicts including assault, fraud and murder have brought the use of the Internet to national attention.
“Currently, the government focuses on the prevention of addiction, but will expand measures for treatment, too,” a ministry official said.
By Bae Ji-sook (email@example.com)