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14% of students addicted to smartphones: poll

Fourteen percent of South Korean primary and secondary school students are addicted to smartphones, more than twice their Internet addiction rate, a poll showed Wednesday.

According to the survey conducted by the Ministry of Gender Equality and Family, 240,000 or 14 percent of the 1.7 million fourth-grade elementary school students and first-grade students of both middle and high schools polled across the country, are addicted to smartphones.

The figure of 240,000 was 2.3 times more than the 105,000 students who suffer from Internet addiction, the poll showed.

Fourth-grade elementary school students accounted for about 28 percent of the entire number of students surveyed while the percentages of first-grade middle schoolers and high schoolers were 32 percent and 40 percent, respectively.

The rate of smartphone addiction was higher among high school students than younger students with 19.6 percent of the 6.8 million high school first-graders polled suffering from addiction. The comparable figures for two other groups were 2.1 percent and 17.1 percent, respectively.

“Children’s addiction to the Internet and smartphones is becoming serious and the problem especially deteriorates during vacation,” said Kim Seong-byeok, a ministry official in charge of youth affairs. “Parents need to make efforts to help their children use media in a healthy manner.”

Those considered to be addicted to their mobile devices often feel anxiety if separated from their smartphones, which adversely affects their sleeping pattern, concentration and overall health.

South Korea has witnessed an explosive growth in smartphone users with its smartphone population topping the 30 million mark in August last year. (Yonhap News)
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