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October 5, 2009

Trapped in the Net: Will Internet Addiction Become a 21st-Century Epidemic?

Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 2009;163(10):959-960. doi:10.1001/archpediatrics.2009.162

After work on August 1, 2005, Lee Seung Seop stepped into an Internet café in Korea. Fifty hours later, the 28-year-old boiler repairman had cardiac arrest after an Internet gaming binge during which he neither ate nor slept. His death prompted an investigation into the problem of Internet addiction in Korea, where current estimates are that 4% of children have the disorder.1 Estimates from China are considerably higher, with as many as 15% of children deemed addicted. How prevalent the problem is for US children is not known, but a random digit dial survey of US adults found that as many as 1 in 8 adults are considered addicted.2 All of these estimates must be interpreted with some caution as there is no currently recognized psychiatric diagnosis of Internet addiction, although it is being considered for the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (Fifth Edition).3

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