Mobile phone addiction; it’s a terrible thing. Actually, I’m amazed there hasn’t been an awareness week for it yet. Phone mast shaped badges, lots of moving photographs of victims with bandaged thumbs. “John’s got carpal tunnel syndrome from texting. ..”.
On a serious note, however, there is one country running a programme to help combat mobile phone addiction. Korea is often the place we look to for mobile innovation both in terms of handsets and services, so it’s perhaps not surprising that it’s the first place to identify addiction as a serious problem. The concern is mostly for teenagers and young adults, who find their lives dominated by mobile use. Teachers who confiscate the phones in school are experiencing a disproportionate reaction – tears, begging and nervousness. The Korean Association for Information Society conducted a survey in 2001 which suggested that 74.9% of young people feel nervous without their phones. But the phones are also becoming more and more disruptive, with 43.7% sending texts during lectures.
In response, the Korea Agency for Digital Opportunity and Promotion (KADO), a civic society called the School Beautiful Group and network provider SK Telecom have launched a campaign for responsible mobile use. The twelve schools, from primary to secondary level, that are taking part in the pilot programme will encourage pupils to share their mobile phone use patterns and the symptoms they experience when they’re parted from their precious handsets. They’ll also discuss proper use of mobile phones. Students brave enough to be parted from their phones during class will be able to do so in special phone lockers on site.
And I thought phone therapy was upgrading my handset…