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The Direct Approach: China Takes on Teen Internet Addiction

If you've ever wondered whether or not your addiction to gaming is a real one... be glad you're wondering while safe at home and not in the middle of Chinese boot camp therapy.

Although compulsive internet use has been considered a mental health issue in many countries, China is one of the first to label "internet addiction" a clinical disorder - and to take some pretty big steps in treating it.

In this short documentary that was recently published late last month, The New York Times takes an inside look at the Internet Addiction Treatment Center, one of the first rehabilitation centers for this disorder. Located in Daxing, a suburb of Beijing, Chinese teenagers are brought here to be "deprogrammed" from their internet gaming addictions with a mix of military boot camp and therapy.

The therapists do appear to have some good, sensical things to say, particularly to parents:

"Criticizing, accusing and blaming. You think these are the best ways to make them change, reflect, and make progress? One of the biggest issues among these kids is loneliness. Loneliness. Did you know they feel lonely? So where do they look for companions? The Internet. They know the Internet inside out, but nothing about human beings. They play to the point of losing themselves."

However, the image of a young boy crying and begging a reporter to take a letter out of the facility to his mother, and whispering about how they tied up his hands, is a haunting one, particularly for those of us who have oft-wondered  "am I a video game addict?"

While it is good to see a country tackle an issue like this head on... how much real healing is actually coming out of this form of rehabilitation?

Published Feb. 3rd 2014
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