What is the K-Scale for Internet Addiction?

wiseGEEK Writer

The K-Scale for Internet Addiction is a checklist created by psychologists and social scientists in South Korea. K stands specifically for Korea. The reason the K-Scale for Internet Addiction is noted is because of the high rate of Internet use in Korea, where it is estimated that about 30% of kids under the age of 18 are at risk for becoming addicted to the Internet or compulsive Internet users.

Younger people can be more prone to Internet addiction.
Younger people can be more prone to Internet addiction.

Internet addiction is still a much debated topic, but social scientists are leaning more and more toward defining excessive Internet use as addictive behavior, because it has very similar symptoms to other behaviors considered to be addictive. There is some expectation that Internet addiction will be included in the next edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, due to the growing prevalence of certain behaviors among some Internet users. In order to define Internet addiction from a scientific standpoint, verifiable checklists like K-scale for Internet Addiction have been developed.

The K-scale for Internet addiction is usually administered by a mental health professional.
The K-scale for Internet addiction is usually administered by a mental health professional.

There are now several checklists and online tests you can take to determine if you have Internet addiction. The K-scale for Internet Addiction is one of them, most often administered by mental health professionals in Korea, to rate potential for signs of addiction. Evaluations include how much people use the Internet on a daily basis, how often they stay on the Internet longer than they planned or to the detriment of school work or work, whether they fantasize about being on the Internet when they’re not logged in, whether they have tried to be on the Internet less and failed, what their moods are like when they are off the net, and if being forced not to be on the net causes depression or anger, typical withdrawal symptoms. In many ways, the K-scale for Internet Addiction is similar to other scales used to measure addictive or compulsive behavior, like alcoholism or compulsive shopping.

Someone may be addicted to the Internet if being forced offline causes depression or anger.
Someone may be addicted to the Internet if being forced offline causes depression or anger.

South Korea uses the K-scale for Internet Addiction to then determine whether kids would benefit from mental health treatment. A number of boot camp style treatment facilities have been designed for adolescents, and the government pays for admission. Even though over 100 of these treatment facilities exist, estimates are that about 400-500 more are needed. The New York Times has called Korea, “the most wired nation on earth,” and this is indeed verifiable.

The K-scale is similar to scales that are used to gauge alcoholism and other addictive behavior.
The K-scale is similar to scales that are used to gauge alcoholism and other addictive behavior.

Some feel that building these treatment facilities is Korea’s way, along with the development of the K-scale for Internet Addiction in addressing the fallout of a behavior the country specifically encouraged. South Korea spent much time developing Internet service and touting its benefits. Almost everyone in the country has Internet access, which would certainly increase risk of some people becoming addicted.

Social scientists and psychiatrists increasingly define excessive Internet use as an addictive behavior.
Social scientists and psychiatrists increasingly define excessive Internet use as an addictive behavior.

Other countries are adopting forms of the K-scale, and China has started to produce similar Internet recovery centers for youths and adults. Along the way, South Koreans are also developing a profile of the type of person most likely to become addicted to the Internet, and the consequences personally and on the societal level of Internet addiction. For instance adolescent and young adult males are the largest population group to suffer from this illness, and Korean social scientists have found that people were exhausting themselves and skipping work or school to spend as much as 20 hours on the Internet daily.

Internet addiction is a concern in South Korea.
Internet addiction is a concern in South Korea.

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Discussion Comments

BostonIrish

@Proxy414

I know that Koreans are very adept at Dance Dance Revolution as well. The way that they are often able to move so quickly and compete so effectively in a myriad of different dances astounds me. It is also a great work out.

Proxy414

Korean young men also have a strong fascination with computer games like Starcraft, where they can even make money in national competitions and earn a career. This kind of gaming is very serious for some Koreans, and incorporates all kinds of complex and effective methods for maximum efficiency.

GigaGold

Addiction recovery often starts with an admission of the problem. If you don't think you are sick you won't go see a doctor, and your sickness will consume you. If you are open and tell people that you have an issue which is bothering you, you make an important first step toward recovery, and are enabled to open up to others who struggle similarly and to those who can help you out of the addiction.

BigBloom

I think that Japan should have a scale for this. There, not only does the topic of internet addiction go unaddressed, but it is rampant to the point that many Japanese internet addicts have become skilled hackers and can pose a threat to the general internet using public. These internet samurai weave through data with ease and manipulate other users.

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