I recall reading about “addiction” to games, or internet, or something of this sort being a major issue for school students in East Asia (not that there is no thing in America and so on). So why don’t the parents of the “addicts” just send their kids to an after-school cram school until supper where there is no internet connection and the “do your homework, young man” principle is institutionalized?
I mean the cram schools already exist. If right now they all refuse to manage their students’ state school activities for some reason, why doesn’t some enterprising owner go into this market niche?
Or do people in fact do precisely that, and so all this internet addiction talk is mostly sensationalized BS?
You seem to have some strange ideas about what cram schools and the internet addiction culture are really like in East Asia.
“Until supper” would be a rip-off of a cram school in East Asia. A daily three/four hour cram school is closer to the norm, with teenage kids getting home anytime between 9pm and midnight. Many go to their cram schools after a light supper and get another meal after getting home.
The high school aged kids are already going to cram schools. They do their gaming afterwards, sometimes well past midnight. In South Korea, at least, there’s talk about enacting legislation to have popular online games shut out under-18 year olds from midnight to 8am.
Also, cram schools cost money. Sometimes very serious money (much more than university, at least in Japan and Korea). So, for the less economically advantaged parents, telling them to be responsible by shelling out tons of money is not a good thing. More competition driving prices down? Yeah right. Doesn’t happen as it is and a decent cram school is a license to print money.
I think this idea also conflates the symptoms with the cause. There’s incredible pressure, starting from elementary school, to get into the best possible high school and the best possible university. To that end, parents are already sending their kids to cram school from elementary school onwards. So, 12-16 hours a day, almost every day, spent in school, cram school, or studying at home for nearly 10 years on top of additional pressure from parents to pass the often rigorous (and one time a year) entrance exams for choice high schools and universities. Gaming is a release valve. Going to cram school might actually be part of the problem.
Also, underage gaming addiction (in Korea, at least) has gone down over the last few years due to increased counseling and recognition of the problem.
That also brings up a major point - about half of the people currently identified as internet/game addicted are in their 20s and 30s and have jobs. Sending them to cram schools is not an option, but getting them some type of constructive help is a good thing. Maybe a ‘cold turkey’ approach would work, but I doubt it. It doesn’t really often work for drug addicts and can often be counter-productive.
Great Antibob, thanks for the extended answer. Let’s focus on children for the time being, not the adults.
If the children have to get up for school in the morning, how can they stay up for a long time at night? Are they fine living on 5 hours a day sleep? Or are they sleeping in school to compensate?
Does the set of students who spend most of the post-school afternoon and evening in cram school really have a big intersection with the set of addicted gamers? Or can it be that the gamers are children of poorer or less academically preoccupied parents who are missing out on the cram school goodness?
You mention that cram schools are very expensive and prices refuse to come down. Could you elaborate on this issue? For instance, are there attempts to open cheaper cram schools that fail for some identifiable reasons, such as government regulation or parents’ obsession with elite cram school reputation? Or is it the case that the current cram school price level is “affordable” to essentially all middle class families and so there is no incentive to try to expand the customer base by recruiting families that cannot afford services of existing businesses? Or are there other factors at work?
I notice that at least for the case of Japan only 30% of students are described as attending cram schools http://www.ascd.org/publications/educational-leadership/feb93/vol50/num05/Japan's-“Cram-Schools”.aspx . (I am unable to find numbers for Korea and Taiwan - the geniuses writing the news articles prefer counting the cram schools themselves rather than percentages or absolute numbers of students enrolled). So are the remaining 70% too poor to afford it? Or are their parents not so preoccupied with the issue?
Kids manage to squeeze in gaming time despite having to shuttle between school and hakwon (Korean cram schools) most days. They can skip hakwon, although nowadays it’d be difficult to do that without getting caught, or they can claim they have a late class at school. Or they can sneak out of the house at night. You are aware that kids do their gaming at Internet cafes, right, and not at home? They sleep in class to make up for those hours, I imagine - it’s easy to get away with sleeping in class at school.
Korea is about to pass a curfew for kids under 15 - they won’t be allowed to log into online gaming sites between midnight and 6am (in order to join a gaming site, you have to register with your SSN).
As for hakwon tuition costs, the institutes have no incentive to bring down the prices. They need to seem elite and exclusive to attract customers. Even lower middle class families will scrape together enough money to send their kids. If a hakwon marketed itself as cheaper, it wouldn’t get any customers. There are cheaper options available, of course, but the idea that expensive=exclusive=better is strong.
Along these lines…Chinese parents do send their kids to training camps to combat internet addiction like we send our kids to those boot camps to make them less bad. Results can be scary, just like our boot camps.
A few reasons why a kid wouldn’t go to cram school:
[li]the parents are too poor to afford it[/li][li]the parents don’t care[/li][li]the parents hire a private tutor instead[/li][li]the kid isn’t planning to go on to high school/college[/li][li]the kid is already in an elite school[/li][li]the kid is smart enough not to need one[/li][/ul]
The numbers your cite gives are far too low, though. The articles I’m finding (in Japanese) give rates of 50-60% attendance for middle school students. For those in the last year of middle school (when they take their tests for high school) the rate shoots up to almost 70%.
Internet Cafes in China are pretty interesting, as **even sven **can attest to. That is where the kids go to game, as far as I’m aware.
I don’t know other East Asian countries well, but the school system in China, especially outside of the showroom Shanghai classes they pass off to Western news reports, is just terrible. For so many reasons. The last thing most of those kids needs is more cram time.
In Korea, most of these reasons wouldn’t exist. The first is valid. The second, maybe, but in a country where mothers are so obsessed with seeing their children succeed, I think it would be rare. (Plus sending them to a cram school gets them out of your hair.) Private tutors are usually hired in addition to enrolling kids at a cram school - tutors are usually more expensive. Going to college in Korea is such a given that I can’t imagine a kid planning not to go - if they don’t go, it’s because they can’t (although there might the rare exception). Students at elite schools are under even more pressure to succeed and they’re the ones attending the most expensive cram schools - the boutique schools, as they’re called. (Unless they go to a REALLY elite school - there are a handful of boarding schools out in the boonies, in which case attending a cram school becomes impossible since they’re mostly in Seoul. And even students at those schools will sometimes come to Seoul on the weekends to attend a cram school).
As for your last point, I’ve never met a kid who thinks they’re smart enough not to need a cram school. It’s not really about being smart - it’s about knowing the test trends and predicting what will be covered on the CSAT that year. I went to a top 3 Korean university and everyone I know attended some sort of cram school at some point.
Parents have almost no faith in the regular school system in Korea, and part of it’s justified. Classes are crammed - 40-50 students in each classroom, many with no air conditioning in the summer and inadequate heating in the winter (although of course, the elite private schools have all these things). Teachers are overwhelmed and discouraged by the fact that kids sleep through class (because they’ve been up all night doing homework for their cram schools). Cram schools attract smarter teachers because they pay better. It’s all rather depressing.
I used to teach at a hagwon and currently teach at an English Village. Hagwons make all sorts of pragmatic approaches to sell seats to children of the middle and working classes; a lot of them are in dingy second- and third-floor walk-ups and are far from elite (This sort of school typically has no native English speakers on staff, which is sort of like having an American guy coaching your American daughter in skating/gymnastics). Our English Village naturally grabs all the rich kids it can, but for the sake of putting butts in seats and meeting payroll, we market aggressively to working-class families for a second-tier program or a shorter stay at dramatically reduced prices.
I wish the kids could bring their laptops from home; it would make some of these classes a lot easier to teach. I’m sure concerns about “computer addiction” play into the reason they don’t do it (at least judging from the way these kids swarm hungrily around my MacBook and iPad). Korea is a country with two cable channels dedicated to “World of Warcraft,” so I hope nobody’s counting on me to stem the tide of gamer addiction.
Must be the differences between the two countries (I’ve always gotten the impression that Korea is a bit like Japan was a couple decades ago on this). My points were based on my experience as a public school junior high school teacher and as a private tutor. Every year there were a few students that decided not to go on to high school. (They actually really had the teachers over a barrel when it came to discipline since there was nothing the teachers could threaten them with.) The grandson of an elderly woman I tutor in English got into one of the best junior high schools in Japan and just doesn’t have time for a cram school. They’re working him to the bone… apparently the school teaches the junior high school and high school curriculums in 5 years instead of 6 and spends the last year prepping the kids for college entrance exams.
I included that point based upon the experience of the best student I remember teaching. She go into the best (public) high school in the prefecture and then went on to Waseda University. When I asked her if she’d ever had a tutor and attended a cram school, she said no. The family had enough money to afford one, so I assumed that she just hadn’t needed it.
This is true for Japan as well (although perhaps not to the same extremes). Something that shocked me as a teacher was that many of my students spent their time in cram school going over the same stuff that they’d cover in school rather than supplementary material. So the kids would sleep during the day at school because they’d already done that lesson. It made the whole thing seem like a grossly inefficient waste of everyone’s time.