Asia Minute: Smart Phone Addiction in South Korea

Jun 17, 2016

Credit Wikipedia Commons

What’s your relationship with your phone? That may seem like an odd question, but it’s one that psychiatrists in South Korea are increasingly asking some of their patients. HPR’s Bill Dorman has details in today’s Asia Minute.

Too much focus on your smart phone can lead to depression.  That’s one of the findings of a study of nearly 5,000 people in South Korea—one of the most digitally-connected countries on earth.  Psychiatrists at St Mary’s Hospital in Seoul surveyed about 23,000 women and 26,000 men about their smart phone use.  About 18% of the women felt they were “addicted” to their phones…..roughly twice the percentage of men who felt the same.

The psychiatrist who organized the study told the Korea Herald that their assumption is that one of the reasons behind the numbers is that “women tend to form more social relationships on line than men.”  The report also found online access can be particularly addictive to “those who are unhappy with themselves in the offline world, because you don’t get the kind of endorsements you get online in your real life.”

One of the problems is that spending more time with the smart phone can be further isolating…making a depression even worse.  South Korean academics spend a lot of time looking at issues around smart phones---in part because they are so ubiquitous in the country.  One study found 72% of children there own a smartphone by the age of 12….and those 12 year olds spend more than five hours a day using them.