Teenagers spend more time online
A third grader at a middle school in eastern Seoul, surnamed Kang, plays online games for about one to two hours per day.
Actually, he spends fewer hours on cyber games than other schoolchildren because he attends a hagwon, or cram school, in the evening.
“I usually play the games after school before going to hagwon, or sometimes late at night after coming back from hagwon.
Some friends who don’t attend hagwon play for four to five hours,” the 16-year-old said.
According to research, Kang is an “average” teenager as far as online gaming is concerned. The study by the Ministry of Gender Equality and Family showed Monday that teenagers played online games for 96 minutes per day on weekdays in 2011 and 168 minutes on weekends.
It revealed the growing addiction youngsters have to cyber games. In replies to the same survey questions in 2008, they responded they spent 78 minutes on games during weekdays and 115 minutes on weekends.
The research was conducted nationwide on 6,514 fourth to sixth graders at elementary schools as well as middle and high school students.
Due to the increasing use of online games, fewer teenagers are reading books: about a quarter of respondents said they didn’t read a single book per month. Students at elementary school read more books than those in middle or high school.
Some 62 percent of the respondents said they played games between midnight and 1 a.m. The survey was conducted between last October and November before the nighttime game curfew system took effect for gamers under 16.
“Even after the game curfew was adopted, I sometimes play games with an ID my mother allowed with her resident registration number,” Kang said.
The study also showed the game habits of youngsters are greatly influenced by their fellows — teenagers having many friends who play games everyday spent 3.7 times more time playing such games on weekdays compared to those with fewer friends with the same hobby.
A middle school teacher, Lim Go-eun, said late evening gaming is kind of social gathering.
“Online games are a kind of entertainment to be social for youth. They make arrangements such as, ‘Let’s connect to play the game at 11 p.m. and play together.’ Those who don’t join in the game meetings can be alienated or even bullied at school,” she said.
Game addiction was seen more often among boys — nine out of 10 boys played online games, while only half of the girls did.
The growing use of online games is partly attributable to a wider use of smartphones.
Nine out of 10 teenagers had cell phones. A remarkable 36.2 percent of the respondents had smartphones in 2011, a six-fold rise from 6 percent a year prior.
Gender didn’t influence playing games on mobile devices. “I play smartphone games when I get bored, not playing games with friends via computer. Not only boys but also girls enjoy games through the phones,” Kang said.