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Thursday, December 27, 2007

Electroshock treatment for Internet Addiction in China?

Journalist unhesitatingly use electroshock to draw attention to old news. has an old story about China clinic gives 'web addicts' shock treatment.

Besides it being old news e.g. compared to these articles back in 2005 on: usa today and BBC NEWS, although the best is from february 2007. They all report about the same clinic:The Internet Addiction Treatment Center in Daxing County. Moreover, in Western studies no consensus exists as to whether Internet addiction really exists.

About electroshock, my expert opinion of the scene from the video presented with the article of and information from it is not about ECT but something probably comparable to transcranial direct current stimulation.

The so-called Internet addiction is in many cases not an ailment, but just a symptom of some deeper problem. Descriptions of the deeper problems can be read on and on The Herald Tribune.
It mostly comes down to:

"The main cause of Internet addiction is that parents' expectations for their children are too high," said Xu.

With education perceived by many parents as the only means of advancement in an ultracompetitive society of 1.3 billion people, some lock their children up to study and ask teachers to assign extra homework. The pressure can be too much for some children, Xu said, especially if they fail.

"Then they escape to the virtual world to seek achievements, importance and satisfaction, or a sense of belonging."

Another explanation for Internet addiction could be a creative manner of censorship by the Chinese government. Internet is a relatively new phenomena in China, a side effect of its booming economy and technological advances, but how to control this development and how to fit it in with its communist government?

Even anonymous blogging is prevented in China

Delegates at the National People's Congress, China's annual session of Parliament, have proposed stricter criminal punishments for Internet café operators who admit minors, and have flagged restrictions on violent games.

The Internet Addiction Treatment Center in Daxing County uses a blend of therapy and military drills to treat the children with "Internet addiction". It is a government-funded center, run by an army colonel under the Beijing Military Hospital. It is one of a handful of clinics treating patients with Internet addictions in China.

Patients, overwhelmingly male and aged 14 to 19, wake up in dormitories at 6:15 a.m. to do morning calisthenics and march on the cracked concrete grounds wearing khaki fatigues. Drill sergeants bark orders at them when they are not attending group and individual counseling sessions. Therapy includes patients simulating war games with laser guns.

The center's tough-love approach to breaking Internet addiction is unique to China, but necessary in a country with over two million teenage Internet addicts, according to the facility's staff.


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