Frm thmbsckng to txtng

Mobile-obsessed pupils in Britain have nothing on young people in South Korea. The craze for texting has got so out of hand in the country that the government has decided to intervene.

The vast majority of South Korean teens own mobiles. One third admit that they send more than 100 messages a day.

Teachers have had little luck getting pupils to turn their phones off when they arrive at school. A study found that four out ten teenagers continued texting in class.

To make matters worse, infants are now getting in on the act. KTF, the country's second largest mobile provider, has set up a charging scheme specially for four-year-olds.

The South Korean government has responded to the craze by making children promise to use phones "responsibly" when they sign up for mobile services.

But it may be too late. Several South Koreans believe that young people have become so attached to technology that they constitute a different sub-species, the "digital natives", who find it easier to communicate using their thumbs than their tongues.

Park Jung-hyun, a researcher at the LG Economic Research Institute, told The Korea Times: "Some babies here appear to pick up a computer mouse and cell phone earlier than a spoon and chopsticks".

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