Obsessive smartphone disorder
More than 20 million South Koreans are now using smartphones. It means four out of every 10 people have them. However, the convenient device has created a new problem ― obsessive smartphone disorder.
If users show the following behavioral and psychological patterns, they can guess at what stage they are at.
A Korea Communications Commission survey of 4,000 Koreans showed the respondents spend a daily average of 87 minutes surfing the Internet through smartphones. Fifty-seven percent are surfing the Internet even when they are with friends. Sixty-seven percent grope for their handsets from time to time, an indication they are becoming addicted to them. They are suffering from obsessive smartphone disorder or an Internet coma.
There are reports of traffic accidents due to smartphone shuffling, the act of walking slowly while browsing the Internet or texting. Many people ensure that their device is near at hand before going to sleep.
Users feel “textually” frustrated when they are desperately waiting for a message, get one from a person they dislike, or it takes time for a text to go through.
Status texting is prevalent these days as people try to update their Facebook status by sending texts and insignificant information about themselves.
People often try to show off by posting excessive, pointless word documents or pictures saved on their computers that they will never look at. This cyber hoarding is frowned upon.
When people are unable to reject plans, dates and even relations, they use email to ditch them. This is an act of email bailing.
Youngsters are playing email tennis through a seemingly endless exchange of messages without any useful outcome. This is to kill time. Email bankruptcy often takes place as people’s inboxes are so inundated that they have to delete everything and start again. Text slurring, similar to the slurring of words, is a daily routine for messenger service users. Users can feel the depressive mood of friends through e-depression messages on the social networking services (SNS).
Many users became the victims of e-thugs who sound tough and scary on the Internet.
Social plagiarism is prevalent as people use a story, information or anecdote of others without citation. Young people hold LAN parties where they bring their own computers, hook them up and game all night.
Facebook fever is in vogue as people feel the uncontrollable urge to check the site every time one comes in contact with a computer or a smartphone.
Facebook crushes epitomize the unexplainable urge to revise friend's photos, and check if other friends have written new messages. The act of writing increasingly sexy messages on SNS is called Facebook foreplay. “Fakebooking” is the act of adding someone who people do not like to SNS.
Smartphone users sometimes install a girlfriend-proof system to hide any objects that they would rather they not see. To “deface” or “de-friend” someone means removing them as a friend from Facebook or other social networking services.
A “Wi five” symbolizes a high five that does not involve contact, normally over a distance where the actual act is impossible.
“Textual satisfaction” is the feeling people get when their phone has a new message or missed email. The anticipation one feels when waiting for a response to a text message is called “textpectation.” Many people don’t know their partners’ phone number as they call them by just touching the screen. “Digital dementia” is on the rise. Students use their phones as a way of bullying their peers, a new headache called cyber bullying.
On a positive note, Korea has become the object of studies by political scientists worldwide because the country has become one of the first to introduce voting through smartphones.
Up to 800,000 voters participated in the recent election for the leaders of the opposition Democratic United Party. This SNS voting tends to over-represent the voices of the young people and under-represent the power of their seniors. But the new phenomenon is likely to make Korean politics cleaner and may usher in an era of direct democracy. Theoretically, all people can participate in politics.
This is ironic because Athenians introduced direct democracy in 500 B.C.
Smartphones can become life-or-death devices for people in emergency situations. In snowy remote mountains, climbers are sometimes rescued as they can relay their location. The devices are also crime-prevention tools. Working moms can monitor their children at their home. They can enable drivers to reach their destinations via the least crowded routes. Smartphones can store documents, pictures, movies and music. Users can obtain materials for learning through apps.
The device also enables users to monitor their health and consult with doctors in remote areas. It works as credit card or ID. Users can handle banking business. They can make reservations for airlines, movies and other tickets. The handsets enable users to watch TV programs.
Despite the convenience, addictive disorders are looming larger and larger.
Lee Chang-sup is the chief editorial writer of The Korea Times. Contact him at email@example.com.