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Game over for China’s net addicts at Beijing boot camp March 12, 2007

Posted by tkcollier in Life, News, Technology.
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FEATURE – Game over for China’s net addicts at Beijing boot camp | Reuters.com
Patients, overwhelmingly male and aged 14 to 19, wake up in common dormitories at 6.15 a.m. to do morning calisthenics and march on the cracked concrete grounds wearing khaki fatigues. Drill sergeants bark orders at them when they are not attending group and one-on-one counselling sessions. Therapy includes patients simulating war games with laser guns.

“Many of the Internet addicts here have rarely considered other peoples’ feelings. The military training allows them to feel what it’s like to be a part of a team,” said Xu Leiting, a psychologist at the hospital. “It also helps their bodies recover and makes them stronger”.

At the end of 2006, China had 137 million Internet users, an increase of 23.4 percent from the previous year. Of users under 18, an estimated 13 percent — or 2.3 million — are Internet addicts, according to a 2006 study by the China National Children’s Centre.

Addiction to the Internet is blamed for most juvenile crime in China, a number of suicides, and deaths from exhaustion by players unable to tear themselves away from marathon game sessions. In 2005, a Shanghai court handed a life sentence to an online game player who stabbed a competitor to death for stealing his cyber-sword — a virtual prize earned during game-play.

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