Chasing the digital dragon

Wired has an excellent report on abuses in China’s ‘internet addiction’ boot camps in the wake of the death of a young man from a beating only hours after he was admitted to one of the facilities.

As we reported last August, after years of promoting the ‘psychiatric dangers’ of the internet, the Chinese government has started to rein in its own clinics after criticisms of its treatments (that included electroshock) and has begun to crack down on the numerous private clinics after reports of widespread abuses.

The Wired piece follows the story of Deng Senshan, the young man who was beaten to death in one of the camps, and explores how the rise of the treatment clinics have followed the increase in anxiety about young people using the internet.

The article also pulls out some of the cultural factors that drive the concept of internet addiction in China, which are quite different from those that are common in the United States.

In fact, this was discussed in a study by anthropologists Alex Golub and Kate Lingley, who noted that in America, parents typically take their children to internet addiction clinics because they don’t spend any time outside or don’t socialise, whereas in China, people take their children to Internet addiction clinics because their children are playing basketball, dating, and playing video games instead of studying.

Link to Wired article ‘Obsessed With the Internet: A Tale From China’.
Link to our previous report on China’s ‘net addiction’ clinics.
Link to study on cultural factors behind Chinese ‘net addiction’.

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