My name is Uln, and I am an InternetholicWritten by Julen Madariaga on November 9th, 2008
Finally, it looks like the Chinese authorities are going to get serious about internet addiction. My favourite Xinhua reader on the sidebar just brought in the scoop, straight from the medical research labs.
Internet addiction in China is a well known problem, and it has been quite present on China blogs these last weeks, following this much commented article by Robert Vance, an English teacher in China.
It is a good thing that the government has decided to address this growing problem, but I have some concerns about how they are going to go about it.
Will we be tested for internet addiction at the mandatory medical test? Will it be added as one of the questions in the immigration form at the airport, right next to “do you have AIDS?” And more seriously: will the Chinese authorities make use of this new disease as an excuse to restrict even more the access to free information on the internet? Here is the report:
Chinese doctors released the country’s first diagnostic definition of Internet addiction over the weekend, amid efforts to address an increasing number of psychological problems that reportedly result from Internet overuse.
Tao Ran, a medical expert at Beijing’s Military General Hospital, where the definition was developed, said it was also the first time for China to officially designate hospital psychiatric units to treat such cases.
Symptoms of addiction included yearning to get back online, mental or physical distress, irritation and difficulty concentrating or sleeping. The definition, based on a study of more than 1,300 problematic computer users, classifies as addicts those who spend at least six hours online a day and have shown at least one symptom in the past three months.
“Eighty percent of addicts can be cured with treatment, which usually lasts about three months,” said Tao. He did not describe the treatment, however.
One of the main problems with the approach of the Chinese authorities is that it doesn’t seem to differentiate between addiction to the internet and addiction to online games. It is clear to anyone that has ever stepped into a chinese internet cafe that the real addiction problem here is to games, and not to the internet itself.
I always thought that if the government has not yet taken any serious measure against this well known problem, it is for a reason. In a way, the legions of Chinese young men immersed every night in their online games constitute a Harmonious force. How? Well, just imagine what all those idle minds would be doing with their spare time if they weren’t busy shooting aliens. Probably not studying the famous Scientific Development Concept of President Hu.
It remains to be seen if anything serious is going to be done against this real addiction, which affects the productivity of the chinese workforce in these difficult times when it will be most needed. And hopefully, they will leave alone the real internet community, the one that has created over the last few years a whole new world of Chinese free opinion.
One clue: Note that it is a Military Hospital that has developed the special psychiatric units to treat the disease. Who will be the first lucky user to get a ticket for the three months of rehabilitation with doctor Tao? He might be reading this blog right now.