China was one of the first countries in the world to label “Internet addiction” as a clinical disorder posing a major threat to its teenagers.
According to Reuters, the Chinese government has taken an aggressive approach to the problem, building as many as 250 boot camps to eradicate internet addiction.
Parents can elect to send their children to these camps, where they undergo psychological examinations and military-style physical training to cure their addiction. Many of the teens sent to these Chinese boot camps spend the majority of their waking hours on the Internet, whether it be on networking sites or online games.
China was one of the first countries to label 'internet addiction' as a clinical disorder deserving psychological treatment. Here, a man plays a game at a Beijing Internet cafe.
Scientists at Beijing's Daxing Internet Addiction Treatment Center scan an Internet addict's brain for research purposes. Some psychologists say that the competitive pressures of life in a 1.3 billion-person country could be a reason many Chinese teens retreat to the Internet.
A female instructor and a former soldier escort a young girl to Qide Education Center, an Internet addiction treatment facility in Beijing. There are as many as 250 secretive military-style camps like Qide in China.
Treatment centres like Qide use military tactics to teach discipline to young addicts. 'Internet-addicted children are in very poor physical condition,' Xing Liming, an official at Qide, said to Reuters. 'Their obsession with the Internet has harmed their health, and they end up losing their ability to participate in a normal life.'
A former military instructor teaches students close-order drills at Qide. Most of the teenagers are there at the request of their parents.
In addition to the physical training, students take courses that run between four and eight months. In this class on traditional Chinese ethics, students learn to bow like Confucius.
Students at Qide are also taught everyday tasks like cleaning, cooking, and other important skills that may have been neglected because of hours spent on the Internet. 'Education and living in a military environment makes them more disciplined and restores their ability to live a normal life,' Xing said to Reuters. 'The training improves their physical strength and helps to develop good living habits.'
One teenager, Wang, has been diagnosed with 'Internet Addiction Disorder.' He once played online shooting games for three days straight in what he says was a retreat from pressure from his parents. 'My parents wanted me to study at home all day, and I was not allowed to play outside,' he said to Reuters. 'As I became addicted to the game, my school grades tumbled. But I gained another feeling of achievement by advancing to the next level in the game.'
Since China classifies Internet addiction as a clinical disorder, teens who suffer from the condition and its side effects are eligible to receive medication as treatment.
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