Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Smartphones, Youth and Addiction

Starting a few years back, South Korea established a pattern of building its broadband networks, both fixed and mobile, years or months ahead of other countries. In the case of the fast new mobile networks, this means that Korean citizens and residents enjoy the fastest, most efficient mobile broadband service in the world.  However, as in the fixed-broadband growth era of the 1990s, it comes at a cost.  One of them is internet addiction, which has rapidly been transformed into smart phone addiction.
As reported in the Korea Joongang Daily, smartphone use among 5-19 year olds increased from just 7.5% at the end of 2010 to 67% in June of this year.  As the bar chart the accompanying graphic shows (click on the graphic to see a full size version), levels of smartphone addiction among children now exceed internet addiction.
The headline of another article in The Joongang Daily is revealing:  "Smartphones cause rifts in families."  Of course they do.  I met earlier this week with a colleague from Korea's ICT sector who mentioned to me that "..all of the kids now have LTE phones."  I have argued elsewhere that the term "smart phone" is a misnomer.   An LTE phone is an internet-connected computer with more capabilities than a typical desktop model.  One needs only imagine the difficulties for parents of guiding their children's use of the internet.  The article is worth reading.    

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