Internet addiction afflicts Hong Kong students

On top of the dangerous drug habits experienced by certain schools in Hong Kong, there is another form of addiction that plagues the city’s secondary school students: the Internet.

Late last year, Hong Kong Federation of Youth Groups conducted an interview of more than 1,500 secondary school students from 31 schools. The survey yielded the following nuggets of information about what they are addicted to. 31.4 per cent of them admitted to Internet addiction, followed by drinking (26 per cent), gambling (12 per cent) and smoking (4 per cent).

The city’s excellent Internet infrastructure may have played a big part in the school kids’ internet habit. With fast broadband, there are practically unlimited things one can do: download movies or watch videos, play online games, or hang out on social media applications. Obviously, they don’t need to stare at their home computers; the addiction can be manifested in the classroom and anywhere else by accessing the web via smartphone.

It is interesting to know the reasons behind such addictions. Many of them said they access the Internet to “kill time” or “easing unhappiness”. Time is a luxury here; I often notice that when I am in Hong Kong time flies so quickly, so knowing that Internet addiction is one way to kill time, that’s pretty amazing.

While we say this is normal and generally less damaging than addiction to prohibited drugs, Internet addiction is still a menace to families and the society if the issue is not given a proper remedy. Academic performance is usually among the first affected. As family becomes frustrated with poor academic records, arguments often flare up and it goes downhill first before things get better. The problem is that addicted youths are reluctant to seek help, as 35 per cent of respondents acknowledge this behavior, survey organizers say.

Unless students try to correct themselves or through counselling by social workers, they pay a heavy price for addiction: bad academic records, poor employment prospects, poor health and poor relationships.