K-scale (Korea scale) is a checklist for diagnosing and evaluating Internet addiction . Internet addiction has been recommended for inclusion in DSM-V (the American Psychiatric Association's Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, fifth revision).
Korea is one of the most wired countries in the world. According to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), it ranks fourth in the world in terms of home broadband subscribers. Furthermore, Internet cafes are extremely common and youths typically connect through cafes rather than from home.
Here are some statistics Korean researchers produced from 2006 data:
- The average Korean high-school student spends 23 hours per week playing video games.
- 2.1 percent of children aged six to nineteen are affected severely enough to warrant treatment.
- About 80 percent of those who need treatment will also require medication.
- About 20-24% of those who need medication will also require hospitalization.
- 1.2 million children who do not meet the criteria for addiction are identified as "at risk."
The South Korean government has identified Internet addiction as one of the country's most serious public health issues. In a presentation to the first International Symposium on Internet Addiction in September 2007, researcher Y.H. Choi reported that, to date, 10 Korean youths had died of cardiopulmonary-related causes in Internet cafes. The government is sponsoring extensive research to explore the problem and has established addiction recovery centers and boot camps to remediate it. Koh Young-sam, head of South Korea's government-run Internet Addiction Counseling Center, presented the K-scale at the Symposium.
The term "K-scale" is sometimes used to signify problematic Internet use, as in: "He has a K-scale habit."