Parent Fear Online Classes Could Fuel Screen Addiction

      April 09, 2020 12:35

      Many parents are fretting about online classes that are supposed to make up for offline teaching because it means their children will be spending even more time glued to their screens.

      A 37-year-old mother of an elementary schoolchild said, "I didn't even let my child watch TV until now, but my efforts are going to waste due to online classes." A message the mother received from her child's teacher a few days ago invited the student to conduct their roll call on Kakao Talk.

      One 43-year-old office worker had been refusing persistent pleas by her son in the seventh grade to buy him a smartphone, hoping to wait until he is able to use one responsibly. "But I'll have to either buy him one or let him borrow one now," she said. "I'm afraid he might grow addicted to YouTube or computer games."

      The biggest concern is excessive dependency on smart devices. A government study in February showed that 22.9 percent of children aged three to nine and 30.2 percent of students aged 10 to 19 were at risk of "excessive dependency" on smartphones.

      That means they have either lost their ability to control their use or suffer from addiction that causes problems in daily life.

      Pediatrist Ha Jung-hoon said, "If we are exposed to stimulating content from childhood, we lose interest in daily life and seek more online stimulus. It's best not to expose children to smart devices at least until they finish elementary school."

      Exposure to sexually explicit contents is also a concern. A study by the Ministry of Gender Equality and Family found that 91.4 percent of prostitution involving minors was solicited through smart devices.

      Perpetrators in recent digital sex crimes against minors using Telegram chat rooms approached their victims online.

      Double-income families are especially worried. One 47-year-old office worker in Pohang, North Gyeongsang Province said, "I don't know if I'll be able to keep track of my kids when they attend school online and I wish they didn't have to do that."

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