New Laws and Clinic to Combat Internet Addiction in South Korea

Internet Addiction is a growing problem for millions around the globe, but in more wired countries the problem is all the more prevalent.

The "Save Brain Clinic", which opened last month in South Korea, is one of a handful of medical facilities all over the world aimed specifically at treating those who suffer from internet addiction. It is the first facility created for this purpose in South Korea. The clinic focuses on the addiction in adolescents, but adults are also welcome to admit themselves. This November, the South Korean Parliament will also be passing a law that requires internet gaming companies ban players under 16 from playing between midnight and 6:00 AM. While the new law aims to prevent internet addiction, clinics like "Save Brain" seek to treat it, even though it is not yet recognized as a mental disorder.

Internet Addiction is treated at "Save Brain" in a five week session. The treatment course consists of group sessions, art therapy, medicine, and two brain-wave monitoring procedures which aim to control and stimulate brain activity. These two processes—neurofeedback and transcranial magnetic stimulation—both aim to monitor slightly alter the brain's activity without surgery. The latter of the two is sometimes used in depression patients.

There are approximately 2 Million internet addicts in South Korea, a country with a population of 48.6 Million. It has been estimated that eight hundred and seventy seven thousand of those affected are between the ages of 9 and nineteen. However, only 3 people are currently admitted at the clinic. Lee Jaewon, the head of "Save Brain", has a guess as to why enrollment is so low. He thinks that parents are embarrassed to admit their child has a problem in the first place, and further are ashamed to admit them into a mental hospital. The Clinic is located at Gongju National Hospital, which is a a psychiatric institution.

For more information on internet addiction, you can watch the National Geographic series Taboo, which devoted an episode to an addicted gamer in South Korea. You can also read about our own Michael Fahey's struggle with, and triumph over, internet addiction here on Kotaku.

"It will be too late if we only start treatment after Internet addiction has been acknowledged as a mental disease," Jaewon said of the Save Brain Clinic; "We will start now, hoping more medical effort and attention will be given to the issue."

New Laws and Clinic to Combat Internet Addiction in South Korea

Clinic Tries to Wean Addicts off Internet Fix [via Inquirer News]