The teens so addicted to phones they're going into detox

The teens so addicted to phones theyre going into detox

The teens so addicted to phones they’re going into detox

The South Korean high school student knew she had a problem, so she enrolled in a government-run camp for teenagers who can’t put their phones down.

“Even when I knew in my head I should stop using my smartphone, I just kept going,” Yoo said. “I couldn’t stop, so I’d be on it until dawn.”

Last year, around 30% of South Korean children aged 10 to 19 were classed as “overdependent” on their phones, according to the Ministry of Science and Information and Communications Technology (MSIT). That means they experienced “serious consequences” due to their smartphone use, including a decline in self-control.

It’s those children — like Yoo — who qualify for a place on government-run camps to treat internet addiction. The program started in 2007 and expanded in 2015 to include smartphones.

This year, the Ministry of Gender Equality and Family held 16 camps across the country for about 400 middle and high school students. For some parents, it was a last resort.

“I think they send kids here because of their desperate desire to get an expert’s help,” said Yoo Soon-duk, Director of Gyeonggi-do Youth Counseling & Welfare Center, which runs a camp for teens in the northern Gyeonggi province.

Sleepless and scrolling

Yoo had been an average student in middle school, but by high school she had sunk to the bottom of the class. She would stay up late, scrolling through her Facebook feed, playing with South Korean camera app Snow and talking with friends on instant messaging service KakaoTalk.

“I felt like my sense of reality was fading,” said Yoo. “Even when I had a fun and productive day (with my friends), it felt like a dream.”

Her father, Yoo Jae-ho, became increasingly worried about her. “There wasn’t much conversation among the family,” he said. “If I talked to her about her phone, there would be an argument.”

He set a time limit of two hours a day for smartphone use, but his daughter still found ways to get around it.

It was Yoo Chae-rin’s idea to join the camp in July. At the gate, she handed in her phone for the first time in years and started a 12-day detox.

Yoo Chae-rin, 16, and her father Yoo Jae-ho used to have arguments about how much she used her smartphone.

Detox camp

South Korean internet camps are free, aside for a 100,000 won ($84) fee for food. Boys and girls are sent to separate camps, and each caters for around 25 students.

At camp, the teenagers are encouraged to participate in scavenger hunts, arts and crafts activities, and sports events. They also have to attend compulsory one-on-one, group and family counseling sessions to discuss their phone usage. Then, for 30 minutes before sleep, the campers meditate.

Yoo Chae-rin, 16, join in smartphone-free activities at a government smartphone addiction camp in Cheonan, South Korea.

Many of the camps are held in youth training centers, away from the city, in green, leafy settings to help the young addicts switch off. Yoo’s camp was held in the city of Cheonan at the National Youth Center of Korea, which has an indoor swimming pool and sports ground.

Camp director Yoo Soon-duk said for the first few days the teenagers have an “agonized look” on their faces. “From the third day, you can see how they change,” she said. “They (start to) enjoy hanging out with friends.”

On a wall at the Cheonan camp, parents had left messages on a “tree of encouragement.”

“We hope that the camp will be a time to reflect on yourself and love yourself,” read one. Another — more ominous — message said: “Go Yong-joo! Don’t escape.”

While this camp is for teenagers, there are separate camps for elementary students, and the National Center for Youth Internet Addiction Treatment offers programs during the semester.

Parents of smartphone addiction campers left encouraging messages on the wall of the camp's activity room in Cheonan, South Korea.

Why South Korea’s teens are so addicted

South Korea is not the only country where teenagers are hooked on phones — worries are growing about excessive smartphone use worldwide.

In 2015, 16% of 15-year-olds in OECD countries spent more than six hours online each day outside school hours, according to a report published in 2017. On weekends, the figure rose to 26%.

In South Korea, societal pressures are exacerbating the problem. There, children face a heavy academic workload and have few ways to relax. At the end of the school day, many are sent to cram classes, leaving little time for other activities.

In 2015, just 46.3% of 15-year-old South Korean students reported exercising or practicing sports before or after school — the lowest percentage of all 36 OECD countries.

Lee Woo-rin, a 16-year-old student who attended the same camp as Yoo Chae-rin, said she used her smartphone to relieve stress from school. “I temporarily forget my stress when I’m on my phone,” Lee said. “But the moment I stop using it, things that made me upset come back to my mind. It became a vicious cycle.”

Dr. Lee Jae-won, a psychiatrist who treats smartphone addiction, said that cycle was a symptom of addiction. When humans are stressed, it reduces dopamine in the brain, prompting them to seek other forms of satisfaction. Because teens don’t have other ways to relieve stress, they use their smartphones, he said.

“At first, smartphones comfort them, but they eventually think that a smartphone is enough to make them happy,” Dr. Lee said. “This leads them to give up school or studies.”

Campers decorate their nails at a government-sponsored smartphone addiction camp in Cheonan, South Korea in July, 2019.

The problems with addiction

In the short term, a smartphone obsession can impact school grades, but the struggle to put down their phones can also have longer term effects for teens.

Over time, internet addicts can become socially isolated and suffer symptoms of withdrawal including “feelings of anger, tension, anxiety and/or depression,” according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

“There’s a high chance that they will live alone after losing family, jobs and friends,” said Dr. Lee.

Not spending time with their family and friends could mean they don’t develop the ability to solve interpersonal conflicts, said Yoo, the camp director. She recalled one teenage camp attendee who threatened to take his own life if he couldn’t leave the camp.

“For him, a smartphone was a bridge to society,” she said.

The South Korea government hopes that treating addiction early can prevent problems in the future.

“Later, when (these adolescents) grow up and have a hard time performing their social roles, not only is there a damage to an individual, but also the nation’s resources will be spent in order to support them. It’ll be a double loss,” said Kim Seong-byeok, the chief of the department that oversees the camps at the Ministry of Gender Equality and Family.

After camp

One month after the camp, Yoo said she only uses her phone for two to three hours a day, compared to around six to seven hours before.

One of the camp’s counselors helped her to understand why she was spending so much time online — as soon as she got bored with one app, she’d switch to another, then another, then another.

“Before, even if I thought in my head that I should stop, I couldn’t,” she said. “But now, if I want to stop, I’m able to stop right away.”

However, Yoo is not sure how effective the detox was for her fellow campers. “I had two roommates. As soon as the camp was over, one (of them) didn’t even say bye to me properly and ran out to use her smartphone,” she said.

According to psychiatrist Dr. Lee Jae-won, the camp’s long term benefits depend on how willing the teenagers are to change their habits. Those who still can’t control their need to use smartphones after the camp may need to seek medical help, he said.

Yoo said friends who went willingly to camp had noticed an improvement in their phone habits. However, she couldn’t say the same for those who fought the process.

“For friends who were forced to go because of their parents, I think the camp wasn’t that effective for them.”

CNN’s Lee Ji-su, Park Ji-min, Kim Na-yeong and Shin Jae-eun contributed reporting.

The teens so addicted to phones they’re going into detox

The South Korean highschool scholar knew she had an issue, so she enrolled in a government-run camp for youngsters who cannot put their phones down.

“Even once I knew in my head I ought to cease utilizing my smartphone, I simply saved going,” Yoo stated. “I could not cease, so I would be on it till daybreak.”

Final 12 months, round 30% of South Korean kids aged 10 to 19 have been classed as “overdependent” on their phones, in accordance to the Ministry of Science and Info and Communications Know-how (MSIT). Meaning they skilled “critical penalties” due to their smartphone use, together with a decline in self-control.

It is these kids — like Yoo — who qualify for a spot on government-run camps to deal with web dependancy. The program began in 2007 and expanded in 2015 to embrace smartphones.

This 12 months, the Ministry of Gender Equality and Household held 16 camps throughout the nation for about 400 center and highschool college students. For some dad and mom, it was a final resort.

“I believe they ship youngsters right here due to their determined want to get an knowledgeable’s assist,” stated Yoo Quickly-duk, Director of Gyeonggi-do Youth Counseling & Welfare Heart, which runs a camp for teens within the northern Gyeonggi province.

Sleepless and scrolling

Yoo had been a median scholar in center college, however by highschool she had sunk to the underside of the category. She would keep up late, scrolling by her Fb feed, enjoying with South Korean digital camera app Snow and speaking with buddies on immediate messaging service KakaoTalk.

“I felt like my sense of actuality was fading,” stated Yoo. “Even once I had a enjoyable and productive day (with my buddies), it felt like a dream.”

Her father, Yoo Jae-ho, grew to become more and more fearful about her. “There wasn’t a lot dialog among the many household,” he stated. “If I talked to her about her telephone, there could be an argument.”

He set a time restrict of two hours a day for smartphone use, however his daughter nonetheless discovered methods to get round it.

It was Yoo Chae-rin’s thought to be part of the camp in July. On the gate, she handed in her telephone for the primary time in years and began a 12-day detox.

Yoo Chae-rin, 16, and her father Yoo Jae-ho used to have arguments about how much she used her smartphone.

Detox camp

South Korean web camps are free, apart for a 100,000 received ($84) payment for meals. Girls and boys are despatched to separate camps, and every caters for round 25 college students.

At camp, the youngsters are inspired to take part in scavenger hunts, arts and crafts actions, and sports activities occasions. In addition they have to attend obligatory one-on-one, group and household counseling classes to talk about their telephone utilization. Then, for 30 minutes earlier than sleep, the campers meditate.

Yoo Chae-rin, 16, join in smartphone-free activities at a government smartphone addiction camp in Cheonan, South Korea.

Lots of the camps are held in youth coaching facilities, away from the town, in inexperienced, leafy settings to assist the younger addicts change off. Yoo’s camp was held within the metropolis of Cheonan on the Nationwide Youth Heart of Korea, which has an indoor swimming pool and sports activities floor.

Camp director Yoo Quickly-duk stated for the primary few days the youngsters have an “agonized look” on their faces. “From the third day, you may see how they alter,” she stated. “They (begin to) get pleasure from hanging out with buddies.”

On a wall on the Cheonan camp, dad and mom had left messages on a “tree of encouragement.”

“We hope that the camp will likely be a time to mirror on your self and love your self,” learn one. One other — extra ominous — message stated: “Go Yong-joo! Do not escape.”

Whereas this camp is for youngsters, there are separate camps for elementary college students, and the Nationwide Heart for Youth Web Habit Therapy provides applications in the course of the semester.

Parents of smartphone addiction campers left encouraging messages on the wall of the camp's activity room in Cheonan, South Korea.

Why South Korea’s teens are so addicted

South Korea shouldn’t be the one nation the place youngsters are hooked on phones — worries are rising about extreme smartphone use worldwide.

In 2015, 16% of 15-year-olds in OECD nations spent greater than six hours on-line every day exterior college hours, in accordance to a report revealed in 2017. On weekends, the determine rose to 26%.

In South Korea, societal pressures are exacerbating the issue. There, kids face a heavy tutorial workload and have few methods to chill out. On the finish of the college day, many are despatched to cram lessons, leaving little time for different actions.

In 2015, simply 46.3% of 15-year-old South Korean college students reported exercising or training sports activities earlier than or after college — the bottom share of all 36 OECD nations.

Lee Woo-rin, a 16-year-old scholar who attended the identical camp as Yoo Chae-rin, stated she used her smartphone to relieve stress from college. “I briefly neglect my stress once I’m on my telephone,” Lee stated. “However the second I cease utilizing it, issues that made me upset come again to my thoughts. It grew to become a vicious cycle.”

Dr. Lee Jae-won, a psychiatrist who treats smartphone dependancy, stated that cycle was a symptom of dependancy. When people are burdened, it reduces dopamine within the mind, prompting them to search different types of satisfaction. As a result of teens do not produce other methods to relieve stress, they use their smartphones, he stated.

“At first, smartphones consolation them, however they finally assume {that a} smartphone is sufficient to make them completely happy,” Dr. Lee stated. “This leads them to hand over college or research.”

Campers decorate their nails at a government-sponsored smartphone addiction camp in Cheonan, South Korea in July, 2019.

The issues with dependancy

Within the quick time period, a smartphone obsession can impression college grades, however the battle to put down their phones also can have long run results for teens.

Over time, web addicts can turn into socially remoted and undergo signs of withdrawal together with “emotions of anger, pressure, anxiousness and/or despair,” in accordance to the World Well being Group (WHO).

“There is a excessive probability that they’ll stay alone after shedding household, jobs and buddies,” stated Dr. Lee.

Not spending time with their household and buddies might imply they do not develop the power to remedy interpersonal conflicts, stated Yoo, the camp director. She recalled one teenage camp attendee who threatened to take his personal life if he could not go away the camp.

“For him, a smartphone was a bridge to society,” she stated.

The South Korea authorities hopes that treating dependancy early can forestall issues sooner or later.

“Later, when (these adolescents) develop up and have a tough time performing their social roles, not solely is there a injury to a person, but in addition the nation’s sources will likely be spent so as to assist them. It’s going to be a double loss,” stated Kim Seong-byeok, the chief of the division that oversees the camps on the Ministry of Gender Equality and Household.

After camp

One month after the camp, Yoo stated she solely makes use of her telephone for 2 to three hours a day, in contrast to round six to seven hours earlier than.

One of many camp’s counselors helped her to perceive why she was spending so a lot time on-line — as quickly as she acquired tired of one app, she’d change to one other, then one other, then one other.

“Earlier than, even when I believed in my head that I ought to cease, I could not,” she stated. “However now, if I would like to cease, I am in a position to cease straight away.”

Nevertheless, Yoo shouldn’t be certain how efficient the detox was for her fellow campers. “I had two roommates. As quickly because the camp was over, one (of them) did not even say bye to me correctly and ran out to use her smartphone,” she stated.

In accordance to psychiatrist Dr. Lee Jae-won, the camp’s long run advantages depend upon how keen the youngsters are to change their habits. Those that nonetheless cannot management their want to use smartphones after the camp might have to search medical assist, he stated.

Yoo stated buddies who went willingly to camp had seen an enchancment of their telephone habits. Nevertheless, she could not say the identical for individuals who fought the method.

“For buddies who have been pressured to go due to their dad and mom, I believe the camp wasn’t that efficient for them.”

CNN’s Lee Ji-su, Park Ji-min, Kim Na-yeong and Shin Jae-eun contributed reporting.

Facts Source: https://www.cnn.com/2019/10/20/asia/smartphone-addiction-camp-intl-hnk-scli/index.html

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