China is experimenting at ways of treating the massive problem of Internet addiction. The problem according to the Chinese state media (make of that source what you will) affects a staggering 13% of China’s 20 million Internet users. An experimental summer camp is being arranged to treat about 40 young and impressionable Internet addicts. At the camp they will be treated for a variety of personality problems that have stemmed from their addiction, including, “depression, fear, unwillingness to interact with others, panic and agitation (Reuters).” Chinese state media has not, to this author’s knowledge, given any form accurate definition as to what constitutes an Internet addiction. Certainly, the endless this author spends surfing the net would place him in serious need of some state sponsored reeducation.
Chinese authorities seem very concerned with the impact of the Internet. They have banned the opening of new cybercafÃ©s in addition to censoring video games and search engines. The Shanghai education commission, in an effort to boost the effectiveness of the camp has organized street patrols by groups of concerned citizens to prevent youngsters entering cybercafÃ©s.
While Internet addiction is a real problem for some people, 13% would seem to be a rather excessive exaggeration. It is without doubt that some people are afflicted with certain personality disorders that cause them to withdraw into the Internet and avoid human contact. Such behavior is exhibited by a very small number of people. While their actions do not harm other people, they do cause a degree of distress to their families. Perhaps a little summer holiday from technology can have a positive impact. You do, however, have to pity the poor kid who plays a couple of hours of World of Warcraft after school only to lose his Internet privileges and get hauled off to summer camp for his or her antisocial activities.