There’s a new poster child for China’s growing problem with Internet addiction. His name is Li Meng and he has lived at an Internet cafe for six years.
The story from Beijing Times, republished by Xinhua, describes how Li Meng spends nearly all of his time at the cafe near in China’s Northeast city of Changchun, leaving only for food and the occasional shower.
A reporter for the paper went to visit him:
No matter what was said, he refused to communicate with anyone else. I consulted the café owner, who simply explained that having been there for so long, they barely noticed his presence, and found him to be straightforward and of little annoyance.
Eventually the reporter was able to crack the gamer, a “bespectacled youth clearly hadn’t been to a hairdresser for a long time”:
“As he talked to our reporter, his gaze was locked to the computer screen, the plastic bag containing his dinner open by his side. He has a monthly income of RMB2,000 ($322), of which 500 ($80) is paid as a fee to the café every month.”
Others at the cafe seemed a little worried about him. “He generally comes at night to play the game, gets sleepy during the day and sleeps here. From time to time will be out to take a bath,” one person told the Beijing Times.
While six-year stints in Internet cafe are unusual, the wide coverage of this story in Chinese media shows that concerns about Internet addiction are going mainstream.
A 2010 Wired Magazine story focused on a Chinese camp designed to cure children of internet addiction. There have recently been reports that similar camps have been caught using violence to discipline the addicts. The camp featured by Wired told prospective clients that as many 80 per cent of Chinese youth suffer from the affliction — surely an exaggeration but enough to give pause.
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