| 4. In which ways is the initiative creative and innovative?
The five tactics implemented under Seoul’s IAPP strategy have produced the following results so far.
Tactic 1: Ensure equal access of all youth to services via local Iwill Centers – Six Iwill Centers now in operation.
The success of Iwill Center Gwangjin, established as the first of its kind in Korea in 2007, provided the momentum for the Women and Family Policy Office of the Seoul City government to pursue the IAPP and establish more Iwill Centers citywide. The Seoul Dream Tree Project Basic Plan, announced in May 2008, provided for the creation of multiple centers like the Iwill Center Gangjin throughout Seoul, and led to the creation of Iwill Center Boramae in 2009. New Iwill Centers also opened in Myongji and Chang-dong in 2010, in Gangbuk in 2012, and in Gangseo in July 2014. In total, there are six Iwill Centers in Seoul today helping local youth and parents cope with Internet addiction.
Tactic 2: Enhance the quality of services based on partnerships with government organizations – A service system now in place, made possible through partnerships with the Ministry of Gender Equality and Family, and the Metropolitan Office of Education.
The Ministry of Gender Equality and Family, the central government body responsible for enforcing policies on protecting youth, began conducting surveys on Internet addiction with schools nationwide in 2009, and have conducted them annually since then. Whereas many schools in regions outside Seoul have failed to carry out the follow-up measures prescribed from the results of such surveys, schools in Seoul have been relatively successful in counseling and helping high-risk youth, thanks to Iwill Centers.
Moreover, the close partnership between the city and the Seoul Metropolitan Office of Education was cemented with an agreement signed between the two that allows Iwill Centers to provide Internet addiction prevention education at schools. In 2010, the office appointed “information ethics teachers” to schools to reinforce prevention programs, while also opening the way for more active individual and group intervention activities.
In 2012, the Metropolitan Office of Education designated Iwill Centers as official agencies for educating teachers and parents on Internet addiction, after which courses were developed for these target groups. In tandem with this in 2013 the centers formed support groups comprised of teen and parent volunteers at 12 schools throughout Seoul.
Seoul City also signed agreements with 15 local hospitals to provide treatment for youth diagnosed with an Internet addiction problem. Moreover in 2013 the city entered into agreements with the NIA and other media organizations to ensure the effectiveness of its public campaigns.
Tactic 3: Expand accessibility to services based on partnerships with youth organizations – Links with youth organizations in Seoul, with the help of digitalization and YouthNavi.
Seoul has formed strong partnerships with local youth organizations in the common endeavor of preventing youth Internet addiction, evidenced in the location of three Iwill Centers in local youth training centers. Iwill Centers organize a wide range of programs in partnership with these youth organizations (e.g., family camps, public campaigns, special prevention classes, parents’ classes, etc.) in an effort to reach as many youth as possible.
In 2011 the Seoul Association of Youth Centers completed its project of connecting all youth training centers in the city via a single online administrative network, the result being vastly increased exchange and collaboration among various youth organizations. YouthNavi, moreover, allows these organizations to advertise their programs and facilities to the public with greater ease.
Iwill Centers have also formed effective systematic partnerships with centers dealing directly with high-risk youth including the Youth Counseling Service Center and the Aha Sexuality Education & Counseling Center for Youth, and cooperate with various youth shelters as well. Iwill Centers are members of the Seoul Youth Counseling Centers Association, which has increased the accessibility and effectiveness of center programs.
Tactic 4: Bring services directly to youth through site visit programs – Gradual increase in the number of staff members.
In their early days, Iwill Centers mostly provided counseling services rather similar to those provided by other counseling centers. Given the special characteristics of Internet-addicted youth and the increasing need for prevention programs with wider reach, however, Iwill Centers began to differentiate the services they provided, adding site visits to schools and homes for counseling purposes to their programs. In particular, the number of site counselors for high-risk youth has been continuously increasing from three counselors per center in 2012, to four in 2013, to five in 2014. Each center also recruits and trains up to 25 Internet addition prevention instructors to provide education at local schools.
Tactic 5: Boost public awareness via various campaigns to encourage a healthier online culture – “1-1-1 Smartphone Campaign” and supporters’ activities.
In 2013, Seoul launched the “1-1-1 Smartphone Campaign,” which encouraged people to turn their smartphones off at least once a week, for at least one hour. The campaign was promoted through advertisements displayed throughout the city, such as on public screens and in public transit. The city also distributed smartphone boxes in the hope that people would lock away their smartphones in these boxes after they returned home in favor of spending more quality time with their families.
In 2014, Seoul City formed teen and parent volunteer groups to participate in campaigns to spread a healthier Internet culture and prevent smartphone addiction. These volunteers attended classes on Internet and smartphone addiction during times of peak use, such as prior to and following summer holidays, in order to increase their knowledge on the subject and provide even stronger support to youth and their parents. They were then dispatched to schools and homes to educate on sound and stable use of the Internet.
| 5. Who implemented the initiative and what is the size of the population affected by this initiative?
The high Internet addiction rate among youth in Seoul and the inability of the central government’s Internet addiction prevention programs to combat the problem spurred Seoul City to, in a very real sense, take matters into its own hands. The city established Iwill Center Gwangjin, the first center geared toward Internet addition prevention, in 2007. Its success led to the establishment of additional Iwill Centers throughout Seoul and to the city’s taking even stronger leadership over the cause. There are currently six Iwill Centers in operation today in six districts of Seoul.
Universities, youth training centers, and other organizations partnered with Iwill Centers.
In an effort to stem the rapid growth of Internet addiction among youth, Seoul City decided to commission the management of its IAPP to agencies and organizations with resources and expertise in youth activities. After a series of open competitions, three youth training centers (in Gwangjin, Boramae, and Chang-dong), and three universities (i.e., Myongji College, Kwangwoon University, and Chongshin University) specializing in youth studies, social work, and counseling were selected as partners. These organizations have made significant contributions to the diversity, novelty, and success of Seoul’s IAPP, adding their extensive experience, academic expertise, and networking resources to Seoul’s efforts.
| 6. How was the strategy implemented and what resources were mobilized?
Prioritizing spending items.
Seoul prioritizes spending items for the IAPP anew each year so as to ensure systematic and effective spending of the city’s budget. The budget earmarked for the IAPP continues to increase yearly, even during recessions, due to the urgency and gravity of the cause and the successful track record of Iwill Centers.
Free programs intended to enhance accessibility.
Thanks to Seoul’s commitment to the success of the IAPP, Iwill Centers are able to provide diverse programs and services—including home counseling, mentoring, alternative activities, youth and family camps, and even hospital treatments—for free, for high-risk youth and their family members. The majority of elementary, middle, and high schools in Seoul also provide free prevention classes. Non-high-risk-youth and their families also have access to these quality services at affordable prices (ranging from USD 5 to 30, depending on the program).
Expertise and specialization, adding to the quality of programs.
Each Iwill Center employs 10 permanent employees, and 50 or so expert counselors and trained prevention instructors. All counselors and prevention instructors hold at least master’s degrees in counseling and/or other related fields, meet or exceed all the qualifications for their position, and have completed mandatory special training courses on Internet addiction. It is thanks to these highly qualified and competent employees that Iwill Centers are able to provide the quality services for which they are praised.
The quality resources provided to Iwill Centers from their partner organizations help significantly to maintain the organization and effectiveness of Seoul City’s IAPP. Each partner and the resources and other supports they provide are presented below.
- Ministry of Gender Equality and Family: Provides a list of high-risk youth to be tended to, based on annual school-wide surveys on Internet addiction
- Ministry of Security and Public Administration: Provides the results of annual nationwide surveys on Internet addiction, and statistics on the IAPP
- Hospitals: Provide diagnoses of addiction and comorbidities, and psychological counseling and treatments. Also advise Iwill Center counselors on addiction-related mental health issues
- Local offices of education and schools: Facilitate Iwill Centers’ public campaigns, and ensure time and resources for prevention classes at schools
- Local youth organizations: Incorporate Internet prevention and counseling programs into their own diverse youth programs
- Counseling societies: Evaluate, advise and supervise counseling and prevention programs and improvement initiatives, and undertake and provide the results of addiction-related research
| 7. Who were the stakeholders involved in the design of the initiative and in its implementation?
Declining Internet addiction rate among Seoul youth.
Iwill Centers have made sweeping additions to their range of counseling and prevention programs over the last 6 years. Whereas only 5,900 cases of counseling and prevention services were handled in 2007, the number rose to 688,000 in 2012 and again to 785,000 in 2013 (the combined total of all Iwill Centers). The establishment of additional Iwill Centers citywide has helped immensely to ensure all youth in Seoul have access to Internet addiction services, regardless of their location.
Internet addiction rates among elementary, middle, and high school students in Seoul, as indicated in annual school-wide surveys, has continued to decline, from 10.0 percent in 2009, to 6.9 percent in 2010, to 5.4 percent in 2011, to 3.32 percent in 2012, and to 3.07 percent in 2013. These statistics attest to the success and efficacy of Seoul’s IAPP.
Diversification of research, with a view to reaching out to different groups.
Iwill Centers continuously undertake intensive research projects on Internet addiction, and reflect the results of these projects in their programs. Since 2007, such research—which takes the form of surveys and others—has resulted in the creation of 24 highly successful programs targeting diverse groups. Research is also the foundation upon which the centers decide the most effective means to disseminate Internet addiction prevention information, some of these means being videos, puppet shows, and textbooks, just to name a few. The centers also collectively published a basic manual on the IAPP.
Customized programs for high-risk youth.
Each Iwill Center employs four professional counselors who make site visits to the homes or schools of high-risk youth to provide counseling for Internet addiction. The main beneficiaries of these counselors’ services include teenagers from low-income households and/or from households without active intervention, and youth who lack the motivation to get help for Internet addiction on their own initiative.
Public campaigns promoting a healthier Internet culture among youth and adults.
In 2013, Iwill Centers launched the “1-1-1 Smartphone Campaign” and began to establish volunteer groups that could assist in efforts to support a healthier Internet culture at home and school. Iwill Centers currently support teen and parent-based volunteer groups at 12 schools in Seoul.
Raising the profile of Iwill Centers as agencies specializing in youth Internet addiction prevention.
Iwill Centers partner with various local organizations to assist with the centers’ counseling and education programs, public campaigns, and alternative activities. Such partnerships are essential to the innovativeness and effectiveness of Iwill Center programs, and their success can be attributed to the professional capabilities of each center in fostering and managing such relationships. The success of the centers has made them favored partners for various government agencies including the Seoul Metropolitan Office of Education, the Ministry of Gender Equality and Family, the Ministry of Security and Public Administration, and the Ministry of Culture.
| 8. What were the most successful outputs and why was the initiative effective?
The success of the IAPP carried out through Iwill Centers continues unabated thanks to increases in the breadth and depth of activities and ongoing efforts to improve the quality of services. Iwill Centers employ diverse systems in choosing partner organizations and evaluating their performances, and are themselves evaluated regularly by service users.
Pre- and post-service evaluations, based on user surveys.
Iwill Centers perform pre-service evaluations of youth and their custodians before providing them with counseling, prevention education, and the like, and also survey their level of satisfaction with such services afterward. Users are asked to evaluate the services they have received, in terms of program contents, instructor competence, suitability of location and time, and so forth, on a five-point scale. They are also asked to comment on how services might be improved.
Each Iwill Center analyzes the results of these evaluations once a month, and reviews them quarterly, semi-annually, and annually as part of the process for developing the following year’s plans.
Full-scale evaluation program involving stakeholders and users.
Programs conducted at elementary, middle, and high schools are assessed in terms of contents, process, preparation, and outcomes by the instructors involved, Iwill Center supervisors, counselor and youth association members, and working-level groups at partner organizations. Parents are also asked to evaluate the programs and provide suggestions for improvements. These evaluations are then included in program outcome reports, and reviewed again to determine improvements needed for future programs.
Administrative evaluation system of Seoul.
Seoul City employs it own administrative evaluation system to monitor, review, supervise, audit, and evaluate all public services performed by its agencies, including Iwill Centers.
Conferences and feedback.
Since 2010, Iwill Centers have been organizing annual conferences on exemplary programs, sharing their projects and business models as IAPP specialists. In 2012, the centers organized an international workshop for youth program with delegates from five Asian countries who visited Seoul at the invitation of the Seoul Youth for Cultural Exchange. In 2013, Iwill Center Gangbuk sent delegates to the International Workshop on Internet and Smartphone Addiction among Youth, held at Jiangsu University in China. In 2014, Iwill Center Gangseo also organized a workshop as part of the Colombo Plan, sharing Seoul’s latest policy developments and programs with international participants and gathering their feedback.
| 9. What were the main obstacles encountered and how were they overcome?
Main obstacle: Enlisting cooperation from other organizations.
The success of any local government initiative depends on effective cooperation and partnership with other governmental and non-governmental organizations. Each organization, however, has its own goals and priorities, a reality that sometimes raises more conflict of interest than assistance or support. Seoul City and its Iwill Centers overcame this difficulty in mainly two ways.
Solution 1: Coordinating cooperation with other administrative organizations, including the central government and the Metropolitan Office of Education.
Seoul sought to ensure win-win results for all partner organizations from the very beginning. This required, first and foremost, clear definitions of the involved organizations’ respective roles and responsibilities. For this, Iwill Center employees held working-level meetings with their counterparts from partner organizations to discuss and decide the specific terms and conditions of cooperation.
This coordination-prioritizing approach facilitated cooperation between different administrative organizations, and also helped to centralize the channel of communication, allowing multiple Iwill Centers to work with these organizations in harmony without unnecessary confusions and inefficiencies.
Solution 2: Maintaining firm conviction in the necessity of inter-organizational partnership.
It can, of course, be difficult for employees as busy as those at Iwill Centers to maintain close ties and relations with partner organizations. Seeking consent and support from other organizations on all aspects of a project—from planning, to implementation, to final reporting—can be extremely time-consuming. Despite the challenges, Iwill Centers remained steadfast in their belief that only through inter-organizational partnerships could they provide effective services for diverse youth, including juvenile delinquents, high-risk youth from marginalized sectors of society, and youth with disabilities.
Another obstacle: Resistance from local residents.
Although Koreans are well aware of the need to prevent Internet addiction, local residents strenuously opposed the creation of Internet addiction prevention centers in their neighborhoods due to the negative nature of the topic. Seoul City responded to this by fostering the community-friendly aspect of Iwill Centers, opening their doors to all members of the community and promoting the centers’ services widely throughout Seoul, especially in high traffic areas.