Korea's Internet Addiction Bootcamps Mistargeted
from the the-symptom-rather-than-the-disease dept
For years, we’ve pointed out how ridiculous it is for people to be blaming internet addictions for things, when almost every case of “internet addiction” that’s demonstrated that the actual problem was something else, and the internet usage was just a way of “escaping” from those other problems. It didn’t help that many of the big supporters of “internet addiction” happen to be the people (i.e., doctors) who are most likely to profit from such a thing existing. On top of that, reports have shown that so-called “internet addictions” tend not to be particularly harmful, and it makes you wonder what the big deal is. However, more recently, we’re seeing some governments take the “threat” seriously. The NY Times is running an article about a “boot camp” in Korea to help cure kids of internet addiction, incorrectly suggesting it’s the first such camp in the world. Earlier this year, we pointed out that China was opening a summer camp for internet addicts, which followed Chinese attempts to cure internet addiction with electric acupuncture, shock therapy and special halfway houses.
Still, as you read the NY Times piece about the Korean boot camp, you see that the folks running the camp are marking the same assumption: that it’s the internet or computers to blame, and therefore, the solution must be to remove kids from the internet and computers entirely. This is fighting the symptom, not the disease. There’s a reason why people started spending so much time online, and simply taking away access probably won’t change that. The one kid that the article discusses in any detail started spending more time online because he wasn’t very popular in school. Taking away the internet isn’t going to fix that. There’s no doubt that some people can spend way too much time at their computers, and it can potentially damage other parts of their lives — but simply blaming the internet and pulling it away completely seems like a cure that’s not likely to help very much. If the real problems that lead the person to spend so much time online aren’t dealt with, then they will simply manifest themselves in some other manner soon enough. Calling something an internet addiction seems easy enough (and it’s catchy, so it gets headlines), but if people are treating the internet part, rather than the real problems, it’s not doing anyone any good.