In an Increasingly Wired China, Rehab for Internet Addicts

Views: Date: Jan 06 2009 08:23:25
KeyWord: Internet,addiction,disorder,IAD
Summary: A Beijing treatment center for Web-addicted youths includes counseling, group games like laser tag, and physical exercise.

In an Increasingly Wired China, Rehab for Internet Addicts

A Beijing treatment center for Web-addicted youths includes counseling, group games like laser tag, and physical exercise.

Since Internet addiction disorder (IAD) was first introduced by Dr. Goldberg as a new type of addiction in 1995, Internet addiction has been widely covered. Currently in China there are 140 million Internet users, internet addiction becomes a social phenomenon in China. The website of csmonitor released an article thoroughly discusses this issue.

Internet Addiction

Beijing - A 6 a.m. wake-up call. Afternoon drills in military bearing and formations. And a grueling regime of push-ups and leg lifts before the 9:30 p.m. lights-out.

Welcome to rehab for Internet addicts – People's Liberation Army (PLA) style.

Here, on a military base outside Beijing, a progressive Chinese psychologist, Tao Ran, has established a treatment center for a distinctly 21st-century malady.

The center is an experiment in treating "non-material" addictions – others include work-, shop- and sex-aholism – that are booming along with China's rapid modernization, says Dr. Tao.

"The problem is getting worse," says Tao. "[Internet addicts] can't adjust to school and society, so they try to escape their difficulties and avoid problems. They lack self-confidence and often don't have the courage to continue their lives."

China has the world's largest number of Internet users – 290 million and counting, with 70 percent under the age of 30. And a recent survey of Internet use by global market information group TNS found that Chinese spend the highest proportion of their leisure time online – 44 percent – out of users in 16 countries.

Tao estimates that 4 to 6 percent of Chinese netizens, which includes more than 13 percent of Chinese college students, are addicts – a term he defines as anyone who spends more than six hours per day for three months or more on nonwork- or study-related Internet use. That amounts to as many as 17 million net junkies in China. By comparison, about 8 percent of college students in the US are addicted Web users, he estimates.

Last fall, Tao coauthored a controversial diagnostic manual for "Internet Addiction Disorder," and he's now fighting to get the disorder accepted both by Chinese netizens and by health organizations at home and abroad.

Finding games and friends in the real world

Tao's center, which opened in 2004, has become the model for other such centers countrywide, which now number more than 300.

Here, in addition to military-style discipline, some 60-odd patients at his center undergo a three-month regimen of counseling, confidence-building activities, sex education, and in about 60 percent of the cases, medication. The treatment is designed to address underlying family and psychological problems, and boost their self-confidence.

There are a handful of young women here, going "cold turkey" from "Audition" and similar games, where players engage in dance battles, decorate virtual homes, and have virtual husbands and babies. (One female patient had amassed 68 "husbands," says Tao, with a sigh).

Continue to read: In an Increasingly Wired China, Rehab for Internet Addicts

News Original From: csmonitor

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