China Internet Addiction

Internet Cafe - Photo by Jove

Many of China Internet users are considered addicts: They spend roughly 6.13 hours online each day and approximately 42% of young Chinese considered themselves addicts.

An interesting survey was published last year regarding China Internet usage: The number of young China Internet addicts soared to 24 million by 2009, and one of every seven internet users is now considered an addict. According to Ke Huixin, the director and professor of the Survey and Statistics Institute of Communication University of China, an internet addict is defined as a person whose school grades, career or interpersonal relationships are affected by overuse of the internet. Those defined as addicts should also meet at least one of three requirements: He or she always wants to use the internet, feels annoyed or depressed if denied internet use, or feels happier in the cyber world than in the real one.

Watch: China Internet addiction problem is rising


China Internet addicts spend roughly 6.13 hours online each day, a figure that coincided with the U.S assessment of 6.14 hours a day. Research by the internet media company InterActiveCorp showed that 42 percent of young Chinese who were polled felt addicted to the internet, compared with 18 percent in the United States.

To deal with the internet addiction problem, more than 300 camps have been set up by researchers and experts who have studied the field of China Internet addiction for years. One of the researchers, Tao Ran, who set up China’s first Internet addiction clinic at the Military General Hospital in Beijing, has studied more than 3,000 “addicts” over a four year period. He was quoted telling The Times Online that: “China finds itself at the forefront of this research, because we were among the earliest to set up clinics. We had a sufficient sample of patients so that we could carry out proper scientific analysis.”

Although camps seem to be a good solution to the China Internet addiction problem, some of them have been known to use extreme measures to withdraw young people from using the internet. These methods include using electric shock therapy and antidepressants and wearing campers out by drilling them in military marching formations (some camps employ former members of the People’s Liberation Army). Other, more moderate camps are known to use less extreme measures such as forcing “addicts” to climb mountains and to immerse themselves in nature.

Some of the extreme measures are now prohibited: In a story published in 2009, one teen was hospitalized after suffering a beating in a camp; in a different story, a teen was killed in one of the camps. After these incidents, the use of extreme methods to wean children off the internet has been re-examined, and China has banned electro-shock therapy as a treatment for internet addiction, citing uncertainty in its safety and its effectiveness.

The China Internet addiction problem is severe. With lack of supervision and education regarding this problem, many Chinese youth will continue to spend their time using the internet aimlessly. Can this problem be solved? Share your thoughts!