China clinic gives 'web addicts' shock treatment

By David Edwards and Muriel Kane
Raw Story
Dec. 24, 2007

Increasing affluence in China, combined with intense pressure on young people to succeed, has led to the appearance of large numbers of Internet dropouts.

Most of those affected are adolescent males who, according to IBN Live, lack self-confidence and have trouble coping with the pressure from their parents to do well at school, "which is why computer games, where success comes with such little effort, are so addictive."

There are many clinics offering cures, but the Internet Addiction Treatment Center in Daxing County, which combines military-style discipline with therapy and even low-voltage electric shocks, claims a particularly high success rate of 70%.

However, even the Daxing center has difficulty with the other 30% of referrals, who are often severely depressed and resistant to counseling. "Their souls are gone to the online world," said one psychologist.

Chinese officials estimate that 13% of Internet users under the age of 18 are addicts. There is little consensus in the West on whether Internet addition is real or how it should be defined, but the Chinese have no hesitation in comparing it with drugs and gambling and blame it for murders, suicides, and much juvenile crime. When one 30 year old man died of exhaustion earlier this year after playing online games for three straight days, Shanghai police began enforcing an age limit of 16 at all Internet cafes.

Korea, often described as the most wired country on earth, has also embraced the Chinese definition of Internet addiction and estimates that up to 30% of its own young people are at risk. Korea recently opened its first boot camp on the Chinese model, the Jump Up Internet Rescue School.

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