Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Horses Help Computer Addicts in Korea

Animal-assisted therapy--in which specially trained animals provide assistance and comfort to people with disabilities or traumas--has been around for years, and a relatively new form of AAT is called equine-assisted therapy, in which caring for and riding horses is used to help those with emotional and psychological problems, as well as to help those with physical disabilities.

In South Korea, one of the world's most wired societies, hundreds of thousands of people are addicted to life on the Internet. While most of these are teenagers, many are adults as well, including some whose addiction to online role-playing games has resulted in suicide or death, as in the case of a couple who neglected their three month old daughter to the point where she died of malnutrition.

One new response to the problem is the rise of horse therapy centers specifically aimed at treating internet addicted children and teens; it is thought that by encouraging young people to form bonds with horses, they will lose their need to go online and seek emotional solace in online fantasy worlds. According to proponents, the program is so successful, and the need is so great, that the Korean Riding Association plans to open an additional 30 centers in the next ten years.

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