CLOSE

Internet Addiction in Asia

There's some debate over whether "internet addiction" is even properly classifiable as a behavioral disorder, but if it is, there's certainly a not-insignificant percentage of folks in the U.S. that would qualify. For whatever reason, it seems that the most shocking statistics I hear about internet addiction come from Asia. South Korea boasts of being the most wired country in the world, with 90% of homes partaking of inexpensive, fast internet connections. Not coincidentally, Korean experts have said that up to 30% of their population under 18, or about 2.5 million people, are at risk for internet addiction. From the New York Times:

They spend at least two hours a day online, usually playing games or chatting. Of those, up to a quarter million probably show signs of actual addiction, like an inability to stop themselves from using computers, rising levels of tolerance that drive them to seek ever longer sessions online, and withdrawal symptoms like anger and craving when prevented from logging on. It has become a national issue here in recent years, as users started dropping dead from exhaustion after playing online games for days on end. A growing number of students have skipped school to stay online, shockingly self-destructive behavior in this intensely competitive society.

Though China has far fewer homes connected to the internet, it has identified similar problems: one study claims that more than 10% of Chinese college students are internet addicts. What both Korea and China have done to combat these addictions is to create a system of "boot camps," which have stirred a bit of controversy of late.

The Times describes one Korean boot camp:

During a session, participants live at the camp, where they are denied computer use and allowed only one hour of cellphone calls a day, to prevent them from playing online games via the phone. They also follow a rigorous regimen of physical exercise and group activities, like horseback riding, aimed at building emotional connections to the real world and weakening those with the virtual one. Initially, the camp had problems with participants sneaking away to go online, even during a 10-minute break before lunch, Ms. Lee said. Now, the campers are under constant surveillance, including while asleep, and are kept busy with chores, like washing their clothes and cleaning their rooms.

Chinese techniques have been known to be more aggressive. Until recently, some Chinese doctors administered electroshock treatment to net-addicted teens; the practice was banned after an outcry by parents (and after it was shown to have little or no effect). Net addiction boot camps are rougher, too, and often force unwilling participants to endure hours of military-style drilling and physical punishments for infractions. Two kids have died at Chinese boot camps in recent months after being beaten. Now China's government has banned physical punishment in such camps.

A treatment program called ReStart recently opened here in the U.S., in Redmond, Washington. Treatment doesn't involve drills or beatings, though:

The five-acre center in Fall City, about 30 miles east of Seattle, can handle up to six patients at a time ... and uses a cold turkey approach. Patients spend their days in counseling and psychotherapy sessions, doing household chores, working on the grounds, going on outings, exercising and cooking.

Whatever the approach, the effectiveness of such programs, in Asia or in the U.S., has yet to be proven.

nextArticle.image_alt|e
iStock
arrow
music
New AI-Driven Music System Analyzes Tracks for Perfect Playlists
iStock
iStock

Whether you're planning a bachelorette party or recovering from a breakup, a well-curated playlist makes all the difference. If you don't have time to pick the perfect songs manually, services that use the AI-driven system Sonic Style may be able to figure out exactly what you have in mind based on your request.

According to Fast Company, Sonic Style is the new music-categorizing service from the media and entertainment data provider Gracenote. There are plenty of music algorithms out there already, but Sonic Style works a little differently. Rather than listing the entire discography of a certain artist under a single genre, the AI analyzes individual tracks. It considers factors like the artist's typical genre and the era the song was recorded in, as well as qualities it can only learn through listening, like tempo and mood. Based on nearly 450 descriptors, it creates a super-accurate "style profile" of the track that makes it easier for listeners to find it when searching for the perfect song to fit an occasion.

Playlists that use data from Sonic Style feel like they were made by a person with a deep knowledge of music rather than a machine. That's thanks to the system's advanced neural network. It also recognizes artists that don't fit neatly into one genre, or that have evolved into a completely different music style over their careers. Any service—including music-streaming platforms and voice-activated assistants—that uses Gracenote's data will be able to take advantage of the new technology.

With AI at your disposal, all you have to do as the listener is decide on a style of music. Here are some ideas to get you started if you want a playlist for productivity.

[h/t Fast Company]

nextArticle.image_alt|e
iStock
arrow
quiz
Food Sorting Gallery
iStock
iStock

SECTIONS

arrow
LIVE SMARTER
More from mental floss studios