Tuesday, August 13, 2013

'Digital Dementia' A Problem With Computer Overuse

Digital dementia?  Apparently that's the latest mental disorder tied to overuse of all the latest new-fangled gadgets we can't seem to live without. Although a global problem, South Korea is battling a major problem with the 35 and under crowd, where a whopping 95% of the population has access to the Internet.

 There, young people in their late 20s and early 30s regularly show up at clinics exhibiting many of the symptoms usually associated with mental disorders in the elderly. Those symptoms include memory problems, an inability to concentrate, and sleeplessness.
The young patients' difficulties, the doctors say, come from high exposure levels to digital screen media, ranging from televisions to computers to game consoles to smart phones. And while no one has yet calculated how many young Koreans are affected, the phenomenon is adding fuel to the already contentious debate between neuroscientists over the health risks of using digital media.

The rest here.

Most of us spend far too much time online. With blogging and googling, twitter and Facebook, we can spend hours upon hours glued to our computer screens, IPhones, and other portable methods of accessing the Internet. I know I do, and it's definitely not healthy. South Koreans are so obsessed with the Internet that an MP, Lee Joung Sun, proposed a bill several years ago to restrict the amount of time one can spend playing on-line games. They also wanted to restrict teens' access to Internet Cafes and games.

They probably would have had no need to take such drastic measures had it not been for a slew of bizarre crimes that were linked to Internet addiction, including several murders and deaths. One 28-year-old man, in 2005, died of a heart attack after he played 50 hours straight (without food or water) a game called StarCraft at some local Internet cafe.

Then there was the 22-year-old guy who killed his mother over her complaints about his game playing and immediately returned to a cafe to finish the game. Or the man who got so angered with another player he attacked the man after he tracked him down via the game's chat room.

Then the most tragic and bizarre case involved a married couple, 41-year-old Kim Yu-Chul and 25-year-old Choi Mi-sun, who starved their three-month-old baby girl to death because they were so hooked on a computer game, get this, that involved raising a 'virtual' child. The couple had met on-line, through a chat site, and spent as many as twelve hours a day playing the game, with an occasional stop home to feed the baby powdered milk.

According to the Yonhap news agency, South Korean police said the couple had become obsessed with raising a virtual girl called Anima in the popular role-playing game Prius Online. The game, similar to Second Life, allows players to create another existence for themselves in a virtual world, including getting a job, interacting with other users and earning an extra avatar to nurture once they reach a certain level.

"The couple seemed to have lost their will to live a normal life because they didn't have jobs and gave birth to a premature baby," Chung Jin-Won, a police officer, told Yonhap. "They indulged themselves in the online game of raising a virtual character so as to escape from reality, which led to the death of their real baby."

Sadly, Kim's parents had been taking care of the baby until 2 weeks prior to her death, when the baby was returned to the couple.

Sources and

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