South Korea is grappling with a concerning surge in teenage online gambling, prompting alarm from the government and law enforcement. Shocking figures reveal a staggering 75 percent increase in teenagers seeking treatment for gambling addiction between 2018 and 2022. While rehabilitation programs exist, a significant gap in medical support has emerged, with the National Center for Youth Internet Addiction Treatment being the only facility in the country addressing online gambling addiction.
In response to the escalating crisis, the South Korean government has implemented a unique approach to combat teen online gambling addiction. The National Center for Youth Internet Addiction Treatment operates a state-run rehab camp where participants must surrender their smartphones and internet devices for an intensive 11-night and 12-day program. During their stay, teenagers engage in activities like music, basketball, and ping pong, offering a holistic approach to overcoming addiction. However, the program’s intensity poses a challenge, resulting in some participants dropping out before completion.
The severity of the issue became even more apparent during a special crackdown on online gambling by the National Police Agency. Shockingly, out of 353 arrests, 39 were underage individuals, emphasizing the urgent need to address this crisis.
Disturbing data from the Gender Equality and Family Ministry’s 2023 habit diagnosis survey reveals that 28,838 teenagers are at risk of falling into the trap of online gambling. Experts attribute the rise to early exposure to digital devices and high-speed internet, which make the digital environment familiar and enticing.
In conclusion, South Korea faces a pressing issue as teen online gambling addiction continues to escalate. The government’s response, through the establishment of a unique rehab camp and increased law enforcement efforts, underscores the urgency to address this growing crisis and safeguard the younger generation from the dangers of online gambling.
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