China’s Digital Detox
A Life Reboot for Internet Gaming Addicts
Internet addiction is a growing threat to society in this century. In China, there are over 700 million Internet users and the number is continually growing. Unlike drugs and alcohol that are not easily accessible to teenagers, the Internet is everywhere and it costs very little. China has become the first country to recognize Internet addiction as a clinical condition. As a result, hundreds of rehab centers or boot camps have emerged all over the country. Here, Internet addiction is dealt with as severely as a drug or alcohol dependency. These centers specialize in rehabilitating teenagers who are suffering from this affliction. These youngsters are lured to the camp where they remain until their obsession is under control.
Treatment at one such camp costs roughly $1,500 per month and the course runs for at least six months. Officially, each Chinese family is only allowed one child, so parents are willing to pay any price to rescue their child from the Internet. Most of the kids that end up at the camp are school dropouts. And most of the adults quit their jobs to play 24/7. These people are lacking in communication skills, most are malnourished because they only had one meal per day which consisted mainly of junk food, and almost none of them can handle simple household chores.
According to Tao Ran, the Director of China Youth Rehabilitation Base, these kids would go to the extreme of wearing diapers just so they wouldn’t interrupt their online games.
One father states how his son remained locked up in his room for six months. That’s when he decided to bring him to the center so he could be rescued from that lifestyle. He had to trick his son to get him to the center and as a result his son gave him the silent treatment for three months.
Most of the boys try to run away within the first month. They hate the place and they hate their parents for sending them there. They see no problems with staying at home locked up in their rooms, gaming for days at a time. By the second month many of them begin to realize that they have a problem, but they are likely to blame their parents for it.
The addiction to gaming or surfing the Internet is just the tip of the iceberg. The real problem has roots that run much deeper. In order to cure the addiction, the underlying causes need to be addressed— causes such as dysfunctional relationships in the families. The camp offers lectures and therapy sessions to the parents. Many parents live at the camp to avoid travelling for long distances every day. A few even give up their jobs to attend their courses.
Although it’s not a prison in the traditional sense, the boot camps provide a strict controlled environment. There are many guards and their jobs include caring for the children, while educating them, and offering psychological treatment. Watch this now.