Internet addiction is being shown in a whole new way through the documentary, Love Child. Prepare yourself, the story is quite shocking.
To start with a little background information, South Korea strives to have the best internet access in the world. The amount of people who take part in the gaming industry among those living in South Korea is astronomical. As the country works to expand its broadband infrastructure to ideally reach every home, many citizens instead partake in PC Bang, a community gaming center. While you pay an hourly fee to play at a PC Bang center, some people actually earn a living playing games online this way.
The film, Love Child presents the story of one real couple who met through online gaming, and then continued to participate in gaming at a PC Bang location. Sounds simple, right? Well, for many people in South Korea, this sounds like an everyday occurrence, so how can this be a movie that is gaining attention for the dangers of internet addiction?
Well, the story begins with a mother encouraging her 24-year-old daughter, Mi-sun to join her at PC Bang in an effort to meet a man to marry. Through a multi-player game, Mi-sun met 34-year-old Yoo-chul. They later met in person and eventually got married. The couple began playing Prius, a particular online game available through PC Bang, and the behavior continued even after their daughter, Sarang was born. By the way, the name Sarang means “love” in Korean.
In order to play enough to make a living, the couple would leave 3-month-old baby Sarang home alone. Ironically enough, the game Prius, that the couple was playing more and more, consisted of a virtual daughter that they were responsible for nurturing. Instead of being at home with their real-life daughter, Mi-sun and Yoo-chul took care of a virtual baby online for up to 12 hours a day.
One day, the couple returned home to find that Sarang had died, allegedly because of starvation.
The couple was arrested in March of 2010, and the prosecutor suggested a five-year prison sentence. So are Mi-sun and Yoo-chul in jail for the neglect that lead to the death of their young child? No. Their defense attorney argued that the couple could not be responsible for what happened to Sarang because of an Internet addiction that had impaired their judgment.
For the first time in South Korea, Internet addiction was a valid defense. The couple was banned from online gaming, but faced no time in jail. The couple now has a second child.
This couple’s story can be a great example of the true dangers involved with Internet addiction when many people do not necessarily see the harm in online gaming or other online activities.
As is the case with drug and alcohol addiction, which is more widely known, behavioral addictions follow the same dangerous progression. You can start to identify an addiction by the following:
loss of use over use of a substance or a behavior
obsession with use of a substance or a behavior
continued use despite negative consequences (social, legal, interpersonal, financial, physical, psychological)
denial that there is a problem
a powerful tendency to relapse, or an inability to discontinue the behavior
Internet addiction is real. Help is available.
photo credit: larskflem