East Asians with Internet Addiction: Prevalence Rates and Support Use Patterns

Stephen Wong, Cass Dykeman

The issue of Internet addiction has become a serious social and health issue in East Asian countries. There are only a few treatment programs for Internet addiction, and their effectiveness with people from East Asian remains unclear. As support and treatment develop, it is necessary to understand cultural preferences for dealing with this concern. Using data from the East Asian Social Survey (EASS), this study examined preferred sources of assistance for help with internet use problems in four countries - China, Japan, South Korea, and Taiwan. Preferences for kin versus non-kin support, use of alternative medicine, and professional mental health assistance were examined, as were between-country differences in support preferences. The results indicate a strong preference for seeking assistance from close relatives, followed by non-kin support (i.e., close friends and co-participants in religious institutions), alternative medicine, and professional mental health services, respectively. While there is a strong preference for family support, over 80% of survey respondents were open to seeking formal or informal mental health support outside the family. There were some significant differences between countries, with South Koreans being more likely to seek non-kin support and professional support for internet addiction concerns compared to Chinese. These differences are discussed in the context of cultural and policy developments in East Asian countries. Findings suggest the need for a more holistic approach to treating low mental health concerns.

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