Youth Internet Addiction Prevention Programs
Children and Youth Division, Seoul Metropolitan Government

A. Problem Analysis

 1. What was the problem before the implementation of the initiative?
Spread of the Internet and with it the emergence of Internet addiction. The Korean government began to focus on the development of IT industries and high-speed Internet networks around 1990, seeing these as fundamentals to the country’s economic growth. By 2006, 88 percent of Korean households were connected to high-speed Internet networks, and by 2007, Korea was ranked as the third most connected country in the world on the National Informatization Index (NII). Korea today may be one of the most digitalized and technologically advanced countries in the world, but this status has its cost. With such widespread Internet access has come an onslaught of serious side effects, including Internet addiction, online game addiction, and cybercrimes—problems that began to surface in the country at the dawn of the new millennium. Scientists have proven that excessive use of the Internet can cause serious damage to health, including deterioration of the frontal lobes of the brain. Psychopathologists view Internet addiction as a kind of behavioral addiction, and argue that the brains of Internet addicts are in many ways similar to those of drug addicts. The addictiveness of the Internet and the consequences of that addiction are in no way fictions. Crimes committed by Internet addicts are often in the headlines in Korea. A teenage boy, for instance, murdered his entire family after he was denied access to the Internet by his parents who were worried he was becoming addicted. In another case, a young couple left their baby to die of starvation because they were too busy playing online games. Such reports add to the already high level of social anxiety surrounding the Internet. Youth—by far the most vulnerable to Internet addiction. Internet addiction is more serious for youth as it leaves lasting damage on their still-developing brains. Annual surveys on Internet addiction conducted by the Korean government show year after year middle and high school students as by far the group most vulnerable to Internet addiction, with particularly high occurrence among teenagers living in large urban areas. A National Information Society Agency (NIA) survey in 2006 showed that, whereas the Internet addiction rate was 12.6 percent on average nationwide, divided into specific groups, that figure rose to 14.9 percent for urban residents, 18.3 percent for teens aged 16 to 19, and 16.6 percent for Seoul residents. Internet addiction in youth can lead to many other serious issues as well, including visual display terminal (VDT) syndrome, extreme conflicts with family members over excessive use of the Internet and/or the viewing of violent/obscene online contents, maladaptation at school, self-isolation and avoidance of interpersonal relations, and copycat crimes modeled after violent materials viewed online. Internet addiction also serves as a gateway to various cybercrimes, including the illegal trade of online game items and the theft of massive amounts of cyber money (convertible into real cash) by crime organizations. Absence of systematic and universal education for preventing Internet addiction. Since 2000 the Korean government has taken various actions for tackling such problems, including developing an Internet addiction scale, launching fact-finding surveys, and creating and implementing educational and counseling programs. In reality, however, it is impossible to curtail the enormous influence the Internet wields over the daily lives of youth in Korea with an agency or two and their limited programs. The central government’s prevention education programs simply cannot meet the rising demand, and as far as systematic intervention programs, none exist. Seoul, the capital city of Korea, has one of the highest Internet addiction rates in the country, and to deal with that reality, the city government saw an urgent need to develop its own Internet addiction intervention and prevention programs to ensure the healthy growth and development of its youth.

B. Strategic Approach

 2. What was the solution?
Seoul City takes the initiative by implementing its own policies. Faced with the absence of a systematic Internet addiction prevention and intervention program despite the pervasiveness of the problem among youth, Seoul City decided to take matters into its own hands, developing and implementing the much-needed programs under its Internet Addiction Prevention Project (IAPP). The establishment of the Iwill Center Gwangjin in 2007 was the first initiative carried out under the project. Aim and strategy. The overarching aim of Seoul’s IAPP is to eradicate the problem of Internet addiction in youth so as to ensure their health and growth, with the overall strategy focused on ensuring its effects for beneficiaries through employing diverse means such as site visits and public campaigns. Specifically, the project is based on the five tactics summarized below. Tactic 1: Ensure equal access of all youth to services via local Iwill Centers. First, Iwill Centers were established throughout the city of Seoul to improve the delivery of prevention and intervention services. Seoul is one of the largest cities in the world, with a population of 10 million, 1.85 million of which are teenagers. It is vital that Iwill Center programs be accessible to all youth, regardless of their location. Thus Iwill Centers were established in different districts to expand the reach of Internet addiction programs. Tactic 2: Enhance the quality of services based on partnerships with government organizations. Second, Seoul sought to improve the efficiency of prevention services based on partnerships with various central government organizations and the Metropolitan Office of Education. The ministries of administration and security, and gender equality and family, were already offering Internet addiction prevention programs at the time Seoul City was preparing its own. The city thus benchmarked some aspects of these programs, and formed a close partnership with the Metropolitan Office of Education to ensure program efficiency. Tactic 3: Expand accessibility to services based on partnerships with youth organizations. Third, Seoul sought to enhance the accessibility and effectiveness of its programs via partnerships with local youth organizations, such as youth training centers, the Youth Counseling Service Center, the Youth Center, and the Community Child Center. Such partnerships make Internet addiction prevention programs and counseling more accessible to local youth. Tactic 4: Bring services directly to youth through site visit programs. Fourth, Seoul sought to bring its prevention programs to the places they are needed most, in particular to schools and youth organizations, through site visits. A common characteristic of Internet-addicted youth is lack of energy and motivation—they rarely seek out addiction services on their own. Aware of this, Seoul made the decision to dispatch its counselors and instructors to local schools, youth organizations, and households to provide counseling and education on site. Tactic 5: Boost public awareness via various campaigns to ensure a healthier online culture. Fifth, Seoul took measures to involve the public in pursuing a healthier online culture. Youth can begin to use the Internet in a more constructive manner only when their surrounding environments, namely home and school, support them to do so. In order for IAPPs to succeed, it is crucial that youth and parents themselves develop a correct understanding of the Internet and participate in various public campaigns intended to establish healthier Internet habits.

 3. How did the initiative solve the problem and improve people’s lives?
Seoul was the first local government in Korea to intervene actively in the problem of youth Internet addiction, starting with the creation of the first Iwill Center in 2007. The success of the city’s Internet addiction programs is evidenced in the many organizations in and outside Korea that have benchmarked them in hopes of having similar results. First systematic Internet addiction prevention programs developed by a local government. Seoul’s IAPP is unique in that it is decided, funded, and implemented solely by the municipal government, with little dependence on central government budgets and programs. This offers particular advantages. First, local government direction of initiatives like the IAPP enables customized program types and contents according to district needs. It also allows for channeling the diverse programs and budgets of the central government and agencies into the locality in such a way that better satisfies the particular needs of the people there. And given its smaller size, a local government is more flexible in the ways it can respond to the ever-changing online culture. Greater accessibility and effectiveness of programs, based on partnerships with diverse organizations. Seoul has formed an expansive partnership network involving various departments of the central government, the Metropolitan Office of Education, and local youth centers and organizations to ensure youth anywhere in Seoul have access to Internet addiction programs. Notably, local centers adapt their programs to suit the specific needs of local youth, thus significantly improving the effectiveness of prevention services. Seoul employs a multifaceted approach to combating Internet addiction, with education, counseling, and public campaigns the key branches of this approach.

C. Execution and Implementation

 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?
Seoul City. 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. Partner organizations. 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.

D. Impact and Sustainability

 10. What were the key benefits resulting from this initiative?
Preventing and reducing Internet addiction in youth through Iwill Centers. Despite the gravity of the Internet addiction problem among Korean youth, there was no systematic prevention or counseling program in place to deal with it. Seoul City confronted this absence by taking a proactive approach, first assembling a counseling team within the Office of the Officer for Children and Youth, and finally establishing six Iwill Centers throughout the city staffed with expert personnel. Seoul also developed a flowchart detailing intervention at different levels of Internet addiction for reference by counselors and Iwill Center staff, by which youth are referred to hospitals in more severe cases or provided preventive education to curb the addiction before it begins. The chart also helps determine when site visits are necessary, ensuring all youth have access to the services the centers provide. Since 2007 when the city began to diversify its promotional channels and reinforce one-on-one relations with Iwill Center users, the number of users has been steadily on the rise. In 2010, Seoul began to work with the Metropolitan Office of Education to design and provide prevention classes and counseling for youth from Grade 4 to the first year in college, reflecting in class and counseling content the results of annual school-wide surveys on Internet addiction. Internet addiction rates have dropped every single year due to such initiatives. Expertise in educational and counseling programs for youth, parents, and teachers. Iwill Centers continue to develop and provide educational programs for students, parents, and teachers, as well as prevention classes and group counseling for youth of different ages, according to systematic programs developed by experts. These programs are evaluated on a regular basis based on which the necessary changes and updates are made. Exemplary programs are also promoted and shared via regular conferences and other means. In 2007, Iwill Centers began to develop integrative long-term therapy programs, starting with prevention classes for fourth through sixth graders. In 2010, a group counseling program for fourth through sixth graders and their parents was added, and in 2011, prevention classes and group counseling began to be offered to middle and high school students. In 2012, a preventive counseling program based on a board game was developed, as was a program for preventing smartphone addiction in middle-school-aged girls. In 2013, a program for preventing cyber bullying was introduced, as was another board game, this one geared toward preventing smartphone addiction. These programs are updated on a yearly basis. Iwill Centers also perform fact-finding surveys each year to identify patterns of Internet addiction in youth, influencing factors, and psychological conditions. The causes, factors, and secondary issues of Internet addiction identified thus are incorporated into Iwill Center policies and programs. A growing network for preventing and reducing Internet addiction in youth. Whereas conventional programs of Internet addiction prevention tended to take individuated approaches, Seoul’s Iwill Centers sought to expand the approach by offering a much wider range of customized programs, including individual and group counseling, family support, and other forms of local resources, the results of which are possible to trace and follow up with. Furthermore, Seoul established an effective and centralized system of command over these centers and conducted school-wide surveys to identify specific issues affecting youth, thereby ensuring that the right resources were being provided to the right targets. Iwill Centers also formed partnerships with central government agencies, the Seoul Metropolitan Office of Education, local youth centers, and local hospitals to ensure the effectiveness of their intervention strategies. These partnership agreements ensure a well-organized system of support is in place, with clearly defined roles and responsibilities, and guarantee expert services from multiple sources. Voluntary public campaigns fostering a healthier online culture. In 2013, Iwill Centers embarked on several major public campaigns to foster a healthier online culture, enlisting the help of 240 volunteering teens and parents at 12 schools in Seoul. Cooperative initiatives like these reflect the public’s growing awareness of Internet addiction as not just a personal problem, but a social issue requiring concerted solutions from families and communities.

 11. Did the initiative improve integrity and/or accountability in public service? (If applicable)
Internet addiction: a universal problem. Smartphones and smart devices are now deeply embedded within the fabric of many societies worldwide, a situation that has brought with it Internet addiction—a serious problem that knows no borders. That Seoul’s Iwill Center initiative has already become an object of benchmarking in numerous other countries is proof of this fact. Central and local government organizations worldwide have much to learn from Seoul’s highly sustainable and effective approach to youth Internet addiction, an approach that is indeed highly transferrable to their own societies. Using existing resources to achieve maximum results at minimum costs. Iwill Centers’ diverse programs are managed through a centralized command system that can be readily applied in almost any society without much alteration. As these programs are made possible by partnerships with existing organizations (schools, youth support organizations, and the like) and resources, they impose little financial burden since there is no need for the creation of new hardware or facilities. Verified results, already being benchmarked. The enormous success Seoul has had with its Iwill Centers has attracted the attention of other local governments in Korea—Incheon, Busan, Daegu, and Ulsan, just to name a few—and governmental organizations elsewhere around the world, all of which desire to benchmark Seoul’s programs. Seoul won a Guangzhou International Award for Urban Innovation in November 2012 for its Iwill Centers. The programs of these centers have also been covered by media around the world, including NHK of Japan, Canal Plus and Radio France of France, Press TV of Iran, and the Associated Press and The Los Angeles Times of the United States. Japan’s National Institute for Educational Research, the Japanese Embassy, Osaka University, Nihon University, the Chinese Academy of Science, and other research institutions worldwide have also sent their delegations to Iwill Centers to learn about their programs on Internet addiction. Further, Iwill Center representatives were invited to an international academic conference on Internet addiction held in Tokyo in October 2012 to speak about their programs and experiences. In response to increasing interest from the international community, Iwill Centers shared their Internet addiction programs at the Asia Youth Leaders Workshop held from October to December, 2012. The workshop programs were held in Taipei, Jakarta, Hanoi, and elsewhere in Asia. In March 2013, Iwill Centers Gangbuk and Chang-dong signed a partnership agreement with Thammasat University in Thailand. Iwill Center representatives also attended an international workshop in Jiangsu, China, in July 2013 to present the centers’ achievements in the area of Internet and smartphone addiction.

 12. Were special measures put in place to ensure that the initiative benefits women and girls and improves the situation of the poorest and most vulnerable? (If applicable)
 The most significant lesson learned from this project is the amazing power of inter-organizational partnership. The success of Iwill Centers would not have been possible without resources from central government organizations, the Korean public school system, and other expert groups, which have made continuous contributions to increasing the effectiveness, quality, and efficiency of Iwill Center services.  The main inter-organizational partnership involved here is the one between the central government and a local government. Though the central government began early to take measures to combat Internet addiction, including developing an Internet addiction scale and conducting nationwide and school-wide surveys, it failed to provide services of sufficient quality and quantity to meet local demands. Though Seoul City, as a local government, may not be able to reach as wide a base of target beneficiaries as the central government, it is capable of providing maximum support for its constituents, which is exactly what the city has done with its Iwill Centers. These centers provide invaluable assistance to the central government on the issue of Internet addiction, and the two mutually complement one another in terms of research and exchange on various programs. In other words, the synergistic aspects of this partnership are being utilized to the fullest extent.  The second aspect of inter-organizational partnership worth noting is the collaboration with the public school system. Iwill Centers need support and assistance from schools in order to provide the centers’ main programs. Based on close partnership with the Seoul Metropolitan Office of Education, Iwill Centers were able to incorporate Internet addiction prevention classes into the regular school curriculum. The Metropolitan Office of Education and local schools, in turn, count on center experts to provide effective instructions on proper use of the Internet. This particular partnership enabled Iwill Centers to overcome early obstacles, like the lack of motivation among Internet-addicted youth to seek treatment, and thereby significantly improved the service delivery system.  The third aspect of inter-organizational partnership that deserves mentioning is the collaboration with expert groups and organizations. To combat Internet addiction in youth, many experts are needed, including mental health specialists, youth activists, and psychotherapists and counselors specializing in addiction. Iwill Centers have entered into partnership agreements with 15 local hospitals, which provide treatment for Internet-addicted youth. Youth activists at youth organizations are also crucial for the success of the programs, since they provide the alternative activities and programs youth need to relieve their obsession with the Internet. Iwill Center counselors also participate in supervising, developing, and evaluating center programs, and regularly attend conferences and other such events to share their experiences and know-how, thus making significant contributions to the mental health field.  These fruitful partnerships have helped to build a solid foundation for the success of center programs and the IAPP itself, sustaining and maximizing the impact of Internet addiction prevention efforts so that a healthier balance is realized at home, at schools, and in communities.

Contact Information

Institution Name:   Children and Youth Division, Seoul Metropolitan Government
Institution Type:   Government Department  
Contact Person:   Hyun Mi Jung
Title:   manager  
Telephone/ Fax:   82-2-2133-5141
Institution's / Project's Website:  
Address:   110 Sejongdaero, Jung-gu
Postal Code:   100744
City:   Seoul

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