Could you imagine playing computer games for 20 hours a day? Or 14 hours in a day where you also spent most of the daylight hours at school? That’s the problem for kids who are addicted to gaming and in particular online gaming and there are rehab centres created to help fight this addiction.
The SBS program Dateline tonight explores the somewhat surreal world of online gaming addiction – looking at a clinic in Korea where teens spend 27 government-funded days fighting off their addiction, somewhat reluctantly.
It’s an eye-opening program, exposing a world where in Seoul there are stadiums filled with cheering fans supporting and encouraging competitors in online e-sports competitions – online games.
These competitors are treated like pop-stars and e-sports is almost a national obsession, alongside K-Pop perhaps.
Statistically though, it’s very worrying – one in ten Korean teens are addicted to the internet, some might see it as a negative result of a government leading the world in digital connectivity, but in the end perhaps this is a reflection of society globally but enhanced in this small super connected country.
This is a fascinating program, set mainly two hours outside Seoul where the kids are sent for 26 nights without any devices. Smartphones are handed over at the door and it’s certainly not an easy ride.
There’s one young man who plays Grand Theft Auto 5 for 20 hours a day! On school days he plays for 10-14 hours!
It seems clear though that “addiction” isn’t just how long they spend online playing – it’s about how they behave outside of that – the program follows the journey of the kids from the raw impact of device removal through to the activities both indoor and out that they go through.
At $300 a day, government-funded, these are the most severe cases of online addiction and it’s fascinating to think that this could be the norm perhaps around the world.
“Korea’s Internet Addicts” airs tonight on Dateline – 9.30pm on SBS