China: Cruel and Unusual Treatments For Internet Addiction

Posted on 6/13/2010 by meg


In recent news, fourteen teenage internet addicts escaped from a treatment center in Huai'an, Jiangsu Province. After attacking a drillmaster, the teens fled by taxi. However, the escape came to an end when the cab driver dropped them off at the local police station because they failed to pay the cab fare.

According to the media, this escape attempt has forced the public to have a more in depth look at the harsh treatments that teens face at internet addiction treatment centers in China. Patients are treated poorly by drillmasters while being forced to study unchallenging curriculum and eat bad food. Many are also abused physically and mentally in these treatment centers. In some cases electric shocks and injections are part of the treatment.

“According to a survey by CCTV, the number of teenage Internet addicts in China has increased from 4 million to more than 13 million in just a few years.” Not to mention the fact that treatment for internet addiction has grown into booming business. “There are more than 300 Internet treatment centers in China, some of which are aimed purely at profit. [...] Parents spent 18,000 yuan ($2,635) on a half-year treatment for their children in the Huai’an treatment center.”

“It is ridiculous that physical punishments and mental restraints are being carried out under the guise of saving children.” Treatment for internet addiction may be successful; however these boot camp-like centers appear to be doing more harm than good to kids.

What is internet addiction?

Internet addiction disorder (IAD) is defined as excessive computer use that interferes with daily life.

There is much debate over whether to include "Internet Addiction" as a diagnosis in the May 2013 edition of the DSM-V. Some experts argue that internet addiction disorder exists and should be included, while others insist that it is neither an addiction nor a specific disorder.

Still others believe that most, if not all, internet addicts already fall under existing diagnostic labels. For many individuals, overuse or inappropriate use of the internet is simply a manifestation of their depression, anxiety, impulse control disorder, or pathological gambling. In addition, IAD has often been compared to food addiction, in which patients overeat as a form of self-medication for depression, anxiety, etc., without actually being addicted to food or eating.

How is internet addiction typically treated?

Content-control software, which controls access to specific pages on the internet, has been used to treat this disorder. Other treatment methods include counseling and cognitive behavioral therapy.

Many treatment centers appear to be popping up all over the world. “In August 2009, ReSTART, a residential treatment center for "pathological computer use", opened near Seattle, Washington, United States. It offers a 45-day program intended to help people wean themselves from pathological computer use, and can handle up to six patients at a time.”

Violence no cure for Web addicts
Internet addiction disorder

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