China’s Ministry of Health recently denied the existence of so-called ‘internet addiction’ as a problem for Chinese youth. You heard correctly- the ‘land of a thousand internet-addiction camps’ is apparently conflicted over whether to electrocute the problem out of its children or to simply ignore it entirely.
The Register reports:
China’s health ministry has turned down the country’s rhetoric on internet addiction, and has warned against “boot camp” style approaches for habitual web abusers.
The ministry has issued guidelines for “inappropriate use of internet” saying there was no precise definition of internet addiction, state news agency Xinhua reports.
The health ministry faces ever-increasing claims that internet addiction is fast becoming one of the largest problems facing Chinese youth. Though everyone but the ministry seems to agree that internet addiction is a legitimate problem, few can agree on the source of said dependency.
A recent Alibaba article states:
The tendency for young Chinese falling into such addictive patterns may be in part due to over-abundant parental pressures and expectations on their only child, according to Tao….
Furthermore, busy parents and the absence of father figures in modern families could lead to insufficient and inefficient communication between children and parents. This emotional alienation from their parents is another reason for teens to turn to Internet abuse.
Despite the Ministry of Health’s denial of ‘internet addiction’ as a legitimate disorder, parents have been sending their children to participate in rehab-style programs that range from support groups to aversion therapy. Much debate has resulted as to what is the proper course of treatment for ‘internet addicts’ out of the wide spectrum of programs currently offered.
Although electroshock therapy was banned by the government in July, many parents see the brutal methods of aversion therapy as the only means through which their children can overcome internet addiction. This was no more evident than in August when a 16-year-old boy was beaten to death in one such camp for running too slowly during a routine exercise.
Rather than bothering to set an explicit definition for internet addiction, the Ministry of Health continued to remind internet users of their guidelines in avoiding “inappropriate use of internet”, which in essence forbids everything worth seeing online. If parents deemed their childrens internet use as inappropriate, then they could enroll their children in a program in which there is “no violence, no restriction on freedom, and no ‘destructive surgeries’”.
As far as Shanghaiist is concerned, the ministry’s approach to so-called internet addiction might just have some wisdom to it – what addiction!? I can log off whenever I want… just after finishing this one post….