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'Web Junkie': Harrowing Documentary On China's Internet Addiction Rehab Clinics 94

Posted by Soulskill
from the you-are-addicted-to-breathing dept.
cold fjord writes "The Daily Beast reports on Web Junkie, a documentary showing the unsettling efforts undertaken by the Internet Addiction Treatment Center in China to break teenagers of their internet habits. Quoting: 'China was one of the first countries to brand "Internet addiction" as a clinical disorder, and to claim it's the number one threat to its teenagers today. The Chinese government has erected 400 rehabilitation boot camps like this one ... a bizarre hybrid of military barracks and mental hospital. ... Every room in the facility is monitored by cameras. ... Teens spend a minimum of three months at Daxing. ... Wires and nodes will be hooked to their head ... they're administered daily medication (without being told what it is), they have to keep their rooms spotless, partake in individual and group therapy sessions with their parents, and do boot camp-style exercise ... One kid in the film claims to have played World of Warcraft for 300 hours straight, taking only tiny naps in between. ... "Some kids are so hooked on these games they think going to the bathroom will affect their performance. So they wear a diaper. These are the same as heroin addicts. ... That's why we call it electronic heroin."' Wired has further details and a clip from the documentary."
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'Web Junkie': Harrowing Documentary On China's Internet Addiction Rehab Clinics

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  • by ScottCooperDotNet (929575) on Tuesday January 21, 2014 @06:34PM (#46030151)

    There is a longstanding trend in the USA for parents to be ever more cautious about where and what their children do, and it seems to have correlated with the century-long decrease in the number of children per woman. Many kids now spend more time inside than previous generations, so they don't develop as strong social skills as they might have. This allows the Internet to somewhat supplement face-to-face contact, and adds considerable anxiety to going outside.

    So I wonder if there is a correlation with China's One Child Policy, where parents may be more likely to shelter their only child? Or is there some other cultural cause?

  • by interkin3tic (1469267) on Tuesday January 21, 2014 @06:46PM (#46030251)
    Only a few people are going to such extremes: the fault lies with them, not the game. I've heard suggestions that even heroin isn't universally addictive, you need to be predisposed to become addicted in order to end up selling yourself etc. I'm skeptical that one can become addicted to WOW, to the point that they wear diapers and play 300 hours straight, without some other problem. And I'm guessing that problem has other negative effects outside of "I play WOW too much."

    My point is that the addicts need to change. Changing the games to try to be a nanny for the addicts seems futile: they'll just get addicted to something else.

    I doubt that these extreme rehab clinics are the way to do it, I'm skeptical that they take a very scientific approach, but changing the world to cure an individuals addiction is a dumber approach.
  • by ackthpt (218170) on Tuesday January 21, 2014 @06:47PM (#46030255) Homepage Journal

    MMORPG can maybe be changed so you don't need to be on 24/7 to get the most of them / fell like you are paying for it so you better play 24/7.

    Other games have more breaks build in and you don't have to play 24/7.

    Here's some historical anecdotal stuff to chew on...

    Long before Warcraft the were MUDs, where people played like addicted players on National Player Addiction Day. I know, I was once one. The terms Life Suck and Time Sink were well known among us, though we laughed it off as we could quit whenever we wanted, though not just yet.

    Before I got sucked into mudding I traveled Europe and met a couple in a restaurant in Brugge, Belgium. As I was an American on holiday, this husband and wife wanted to know a little about what life was like in the states and what I did for a living. Their living was currently treating people for Network Addiction - those people who were so glued to every post on a Fido (or other) board they couldn't function outside of hitting Reload every 10 seconds to see if they had any replies. Flamewars were what they lived for, a reason to participate and be heard (even if today nobody remembers any of it.) This meeting was in early January, 1994. Not a new thing, so it turns out. My younger brother was one of those who would do anything (include lie and steal) to keep his connection to a BBS going. They completely understood.

  • by Bacon Bits (926911) on Tuesday January 21, 2014 @06:56PM (#46030315)

    MMORPG can maybe be changed so you don't need to be on 24/7 to get the most of them / fell like you are paying for it so you better play 24/7.

    Pretty much this. They build in pressure to play, or return to continue playing. WoW's rest XP was supposed to combat this, but in reality it just doesn't. Certainly once you hit level cap rest XP does fuck all for encouraging you to log off. Battle.Net ladders and all competitive rewards simply reward expertise gained from a small amount of talent and a tremendous amount of time. Keeping your subscription current, buying this year's multi-player FPS encourage return and repeat buyers. Mobile and web-based games like Farmville (and, I assume, Candy Crush) have incentives and micro-transactions to encourage time investments. Even games with time limits have amounts you can pay for extra time. "Fremium" games seem to be the most egregious violators. These games are built to be addicting, not entertaining.

    The only real world analogs I can think of are TCGs and casino games. Is that what this is? An adapted gambling addiction?

If I'd known computer science was going to be like this, I'd never have given up being a rock 'n' roll star. -- G. Hirst