Young children are more vulnerable to Internet addiction than adults, according to a survey by the Ministry of Public Administration and Security last year. It found that 7.9 percent of children between the age of five and nine are addicted to the Internet, as against 6.8 percent of adults between 20 and 49.
Those addicted to the Internet can become anxious and depressed if they are deprived of access to the Internet. This is the first time that a survey which separately measures Internet addiction among young children has come out. The overall proportion of Internet addicts was 7.7 percent, down 0.3 percent from 2010.
The ministry also carried out a survey on smartphone use, which showed that smartphone addicts spend an average of 8.2 hours a day using the devices, more than double the normal average of three hours.
The proportion of smartphone addicts was higher with 8.4 percent than that of Internet addicts with 7.7 percent. In a multiple answer questionnaire, most smartphone users used the device to chat via apps such as Kakao Talk and My People (65.1 percent), followed by reading news (39.3 percent) and listening to music (37.8 percent).
Addiction to social media seems to be intensifying. The proportion of those who admitted they spend too much time browsing social networking sites rose from 6.2 percent in 2010 to 10.1 percent in 2011. People spent an average of 52.4 minutes checking sites like Facebook or Twitter 3.4 times per day.
The Internet addiction rate among adolescents was higher among poorer families with a monthly income under W2 million (13 percent), multicultural families (14.2 percent), and single-parent households (10.5 percent).
Among adults groups, 9.2 percent of people in their 20s were addicted to the Internet, compared to 4.7 percent of people in their 40s. University students and unemployed people had a higher addition rate with 11 percent and 10.1 percent.
Eom Na-rae of the National Information Society Agency said, "Parents who do not have enough time to take care of their children tend to overlook children's excessive use of the Internet. But Internet addiction is hard to repress, just like TV addiction, so parents need to pay more attention to how much their kids are exposed to the Internet."