South Korea is witnessing a concerning surge in teenage online gambling, prompting heightened concern from the government and law enforcement. Shocking figures reveal a 75 percent increase in teenagers seeking medical treatment for gambling addiction between 2018 and 2022. Although rehabilitation programmes are available, a significant gap in medical support has emerged, with the National Center for Youth Internet Addiction Treatment being the sole facility offering rehab programs specifically tailored to address online gambling addictions in the country.
State-run rehab camp
The Government is taking a bold approach to tackle the issue. To counteract the escalating crisis, the South Korean government has initiated a unique approach to address teen online gambling addiction. The National Center for Youth Internet Addiction Treatment administers a state-run rehab camp where participants surrender their smartphones and internet-enabled devices for an intensive 11-night and 12-day programme. During their stay, teenagers are immersed in activities such as playing musical instruments, basketball and ping pong, offering a holistic approach to tackling addiction beyond traditional methods. However, the program's intensity poses a significant challenge, leading some participants to opt out before completion.
Alarming statistics and urgent police action
The severity of the issue became even more apparent during a special crackdown on online gambling by the National Police Agency. Out of 353 arrests, a staggering 39 were juveniles, highlighting the urgency of addressing this crisis.
Data from the Gender Equality and Family Ministry's 2023 habit diagnosis survey painted a worrisome picture, indicating that 28,838 teens were at risk of falling prey to online gambling. Experts attribute the rise to the familiarity of the digital environment, with early exposure to digital devices and high-speed internet amplifying the issue.
In conclusion, South Korea is faced with a pressing issue as teen online gambling addiction continues to rise. The government's response, including the establishment of a unique rehab camp and increased law enforcement efforts, underscores the urgency to address this growing crisis and protect the younger generation from the perils of online gambling.