The Korea Herald


Nearly 1 in 4 Koreans diagnosed with smartphone overdependence

Science Ministry survey shows 37 percent of the youth rely heavily on smartphones

By Kan Hyeong-woo

Published : March 24, 2022 - 15:01

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Nearly a quarter of the South Korean public are dangerously reliant on smartphones, with almost 40 percent of the country’s youth diagnosed with smartphone overdependence, the Ministry of ICT and Science said Thursday.

According to the ministry’s survey on the country’s digital divide and overdependence on smartphones, 24.2 percent of 10,000 households nationwide fell under the category of smartphone overdependence, up 0.9 percentage points on year.

The ministry divided the degrees of smartphone overdependence into three: normal group, potential risk group and high-risk group. It measured how much priority people put on using smartphones and whether people can control the amount of hours they spend on using them. It also looked at if using smartphones led to physical, psychological or social problems for users.

The category of smartphone overdependence included potential-risk and high-risk groups.

The youth aged between 10 and 19 had the highest percentage of smartphone overdependence with 37 percent, an increase of 1.2 percentage points on year. People aged between 20 and 29 had 23.3 percent rate of smartphone overdependence while 17.5 percent of the elderly aged 60 or older was deemed to be overly relying on smartphones.

The ministry said the prolonged COVID-19 pandemic, which led to more content consumption such as movies, TV, online videos and games, resulted in the overall increase in the portion of smartphone dependence.

In order to reduce the number of people struggling with smartphone overdependence, the ministry is operating 18 Internet Addiction Prevention Centers across the country. It said the centers aim to educate and support 500,000 people a year to help them better use their smartphones. The ministry also provides online diagnosis of smartphone addiction and free counseling on the IAPC website.