Chinese youth are more addicted to video games. text messaging and online chats than any other group I have seen worldwide. Students will happily risk a failing grade in class in order to keep up with the daily movements of their friends. They text message each other so often that GPS is uneccessary.
Beijing has been concerned for a while and bootcamps for the addicted are springing up country-wide. The Beijing Military Region Central Hospital was turned into a boot camp for the Internet-addicted a few months ago. According to the director of China’s of the program, people treated there have a hard time distinguishing between real and virtual worlds. Me too, but it has nothing to do with the Internet and more with being an expat…
According to a recent post by Boing Boing: “The Chinese government is imprisoning and giving electric shocks to people it thinks have become addicted to the Internet. Alarmed by a survey that found that nearly 14 percent of teens in China are vulnerable to becoming addicted to the Internet, the Chinese government has launched a nationwide campaign to stamp out what the Communist Youth League calls “a grave social problem” that threatens the nation.
Tao Ran, a military researcher who built his career by treating heroin addicts said that the clinic is based on the idea that there are many similarities between his current patients and those he had in the past.
In terms of withdrawal: “If you let someone go online and then he can’t go online, you may see a physical reaction, just like someone coming off drugs.” And in terms of resistance: “Today you go half an hour, and the next day you need 45 minutes. It’s like starting with drinking one glass and then needing half a bottle to feel the same way.”
Clients ( I will call them draftees) are subjected to punitive drills intended to curb their Internet appetite. The two week treatment includes electric acupuncture, psychological counseling (the Chinese are still working on this….Counseling=”Do this!”) and anti-depressants. The whole program costs about $1,000 USD. Cheap by US standards, expensive here. Even then the hospital intends to have 150 full beds soon. In an article in Zhonghua Rising it is reported that one boy, destined for a top ranked college, attempted suicide as a result of failed attempts at college due to Internet addiction: “One boy, passed his college entrance exams for the fourth time. The first three times he ended up dropping out of school for not studying. He was at the Internet Cafe. His prof’s say his scores were excellent and the boy, now 23, could have gone to one of the most prestigious universities in China. However, his obsession with Internet surfing and computer games proved to be his downfall. One prof says, this boy “is a typical example of those students who have no trouble with exams in China’s exam-oriented middle school education but fail to adapt to college life where the emphasis is on self-study and all-round development.”‘
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