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Posted : 2012-04-06 19:25
Updated : 2012-04-06 19:25

Addiction can become hidden enemy



By Yun Suh-young

A woman in her 20s was arrested Thursday on charges of killing her baby right after giving birth in a restroom of an Internet cafe in Songpa-gu, Seoul.

She had been playing Internet games every day since last January until the incident took place last week. She was too engaged in the game to realize that her water broke, according to the police.

The woman is an online game addict and she is not alone in committing such heinous crime due to the bad habit.

In 2010, a couple was sentenced to prison for leaving their three-month-old daughter to die of malnutrition. They were both game addicts who were also fostering a virtual baby online. They were so engaged in the Internet role-playing game that they neglected their real baby daughter.

Other cases include a man in his 20s killing his mom for scolding him for playing online games and a man in his 30s dying after falling unconscious due to playing games for 15 hours a day for five consecutive days.

In such manner the problem of online game addiction can get quite serious without easy ways to detect the symptoms. Like any addiction, recovery can be a long difficult process.

“It takes time to rehabilitate a person from addiction. It’s not something that can be solved in one or two months. It may take a year or two to root it out. They must receive treatment for at least a year,” said Baeck Sung-yun, director of the Game Clinic Center located in Gangnam, southern Seoul.

A serious factor is that online game addiction is often accompanied by other kinds of addictions as well such as addiction to pornography, alcohol or drugs and this contributes to crime.

“The most shocking case I’ve seen is a game-addicted teenager who became addicted to pornography. The addiction first starts with games, but as the boys grow older, they move on to watching pornography instead of playing games. The percentage of high school students playing games is lower than those in elementary or middle schools. But the problem is, once they get addicted to porn, they show shockingly perverted behavior and have a hard time adjusting to a normal lifestyle or getting married,” said Baeck.

Alcohol or drug addiction can also complicate the situation.

“Those who are exposed to alcohol or drugs have a higher tendency to become addicted to games and vice versa. Basically, if there’s a tendency toward one kind of addiction, other kinds of addictions are likely to follow,” said Noh Jai-sung, head of the Department of Psychiatry at Ajou University Medical Center.

“People addicted to smoking go to buy cigarettes even if the store is very far away. The same applies to other kinds of addiction. If a person is abusing or dependent on something, he or she can be said to be an addict. It’s when the urge is not satisfied that the violent or unexpected behavior occurs,” he said.

Teenagers are the greatest victims of online game addiction.

“Because they’re under great stress, a lot of teenagers become addicted to playing such games. If they don’t recognize the problem early on and resolve it, the addiction continues until they become adults. Parents think it’s a passing phase but it’s not. Early treatment is very important,” said Baeck.

Game clinics or rehabilitation centers help patients solve the addiction problem through counseling, reading therapy and play therapy. But what’s most important is the role of the family. In order for the change in the child to occur, the parents and the family environment must change.

“Even if the kids recover from the addiction, if the family environment is stressful, they will go back to playing games. So ultimately, parents must change their perceptions about their child,” said Baeck.

“Most parents who come to our center for counseling think that the addiction is only the kid’s problem. They don’t think it’s their own. But parents also share the blame. If they have a problem in raising the child, it must change. If they have problems between themselves, they must stop fighting in front of the children. The family must unite. And the kid should also have a strong desire to change.”

For those who don’t have the will, they must be convinced by giving them a goal, helping them find an alternative hobby or a mentor.

There are currently about 2 million online game addicts according to the Ministry of Public Administration and Security and half of them are teenagers.
관련 한글 기사

게임 중독부터 성인물 중독까지.. 충격

지난 목요일 한 20대 여성이 송파구의 한 PC방 화장실에서 아이를 낳고 주차장에 버린 것으로 알려져 충격을 주고 있다. 이 여성은 1월부터 PC방에서 게임을 해왔던 것으로 알려졌다. 경찰에 의하면 이 여성은 양수가 터진 줄도 모르고 게임에 빠져있었다고 한다.

인터넷 중독에 따른 범죄 행위는 이뿐만이 아니다. 지난 2010년에는 한 부부가 게임에 빠져 3개월 된 딸을 굶어 죽게 해 철창 신세를 지게 됐다. 20대 남성이 게임을 하지 말라는 엄마를 살해하는가 하면 30대 게임 중독에 따른 과로로 쓰려져 죽은 사례도 있었다.

이처럼 인터넷 중독은 심각한 문제를 부른다. 치료 또한 쉽지 않다.

게임중독치료센터의 백승윤 원장은 “중독은 한 두달에 치료되는 게 아니”라며 1-2년이 걸릴 수도 있다고 한다. “게임중독은 적어도 1년은 치료를 받아야 치료가 된다”고 백 원장은 말했다.

문제는 게임중독이 다른 중독을 동반한다는 것이다. 게임중독자는 성인물, 알코올, 마약 등 다른 중독에도 걸릴 위험이 크다.

“가장 충격적인 경우는 게임중독이었던 남자 고등학생이 포르노 중독이 된 경우다. 남학생들의 경우 학년이 높아질수록 게임중독에서 성인물 중독으로 옮겨가는 경우가 많다. 그런데 이런 중독은 종종 심각하게 변태적인 행위를 유발하기 때문에 사회생활도 힘들고 결혼하기도 힘들어진다”고 백 원장은 말했다.

술과 마약도 문제다.

아주대병원 정신과의 노재성 교수는 “술이나 마약에 중독된 사람들이 게임중독이 될 확률도 크고 반대의 경우도 발생한다”며 “그런 성향을 가진 사람은 다른 중독에 걸릴 확률도 크다”고 말했다.

그는 “담배 피는 사람을 보면 담배사려고 옷입고 멀리 나가는 수고를 마다하지 않는다”며 “다른 중독도 마찬가지다. 욕구가 충족되지 않은 경우 폭력적 행동이 나오는 경우가 있다”고 했다.

게임 중독의 가장 큰 피해자들은 청소년이다.

백 원장은 “청소년은 스트레스를 많이 받기 때문에 게임중독에 많이 빠진다”며 “문제를 빨리 포착해서 해결하지 않으면 성인이 되서까지 중독에서 헤어나오지 못한다. 부모들은 나이가 들면 자녀의 중독이 없어질것이라 생각하지만 그렇지 않다”고 말한다.

게임중독치료센터는 이런 문제를 놀이치료, 독서치료, 집단상담치료 등을 통해 치료하지만 가장 중요한 것은 가족치료다. 한마디로 가족이 함께 노력해서 바뀌어야 아이도 바뀐다는 것이다.

그는“아무리 애가 바뀌어도 부모나 집안환경이 그대로면 다시 게임중독에 빠질 위험이 크다. 부모들의 양육법을 바꾸고 부부사이의 문제가 있으면 해결해야 한다. 부모는 자녀의 문제로만 치부하는데 사실 그렇지 않다”고 말했다.

또 아이의 의지도 중요하다.

백 원장은 “의지가 없는 아이에겐 의지를 심어주는 것이 중요하다. 멘토를 만들거나 취미생활이나 목표를 만들어주는 것이 중요하다”고 말했다.

행정안전부에 의하면 현재까지 게임중독에 걸린 인구는 200만이며 그 중 절반은 청소년이다.


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