Internet Rehab Camps Newest China Trend


I’m Addicted To The Internet

The second I sit down in a restaurant, I whip out my phone and check-in on Yelp. Maybe I’ll even tag my friends so they can make a cameo in my personal online web show, My Life In Status Updates. And when my food comes out, before doing what comes naturally (i.e. eating), I’ll snap a picture, slap on a filter, and then upload it online.

My obsession over social media life versus my real social life isn’t the only thing affected by the creation of the Internet. When it comes to school, I don’t find myself going to a library very much because I can:

  • Google all my questions
  • Find an E-copy of a book
  • Use Wikipedia and cite all the references at the bottom
  • Procrastinate and go on Reddit (because why work now so I can have a happier future, when procrastination pays off immediately?)

Is this the social norm now? Or am I just spiraling down a dark hole, commonly known as Internet addiction. If the latter is the case, then I'm not definitely not spiraling alone.

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Internet Addiction Makes Its Debut At Sundance Film Festival

Last week was the annual hipster gathering of indie movies—Sundance Film Festival. One of the films showcased was Web Junkie, a documentary directed by Shosh Shlam and Hilla Medalia on how China treats Internet addiction.

The film follows the lives of three kids who get admitted to an Internet addiction treatment camp in Daxong, Beijing. Unfortunately, there aren’t any nature hikes or arts and crafts projects. Throughout three months of treatment, kids are subjected to medication, therapy, physical training, monitored sleep, and regulated diets. By the sounds of it, these children have been locked up in a military grade detox camp.

The images of the film show young, Chinese boys dressed in camouflage. Occasionally girls make an appearance, but it seems like the majority of campers are young men who spend a lot of their time gaming. When interviewed, many admitted to abandoning the real world so that they could master online worlds in coveted MMORPG’s. It seems that online gaming culture in Asia can be particularly extreme. There have been stories of people dying of exhaustion in 24/7 Internet cafes as a result of 20 hour long binge gaming. There was even a story of an infant who died of neglect when its parents were too consumed with an online game.

With this dark side to gaming culture in Asia, parents have become cautious and fearful of Internet addiction in their kids. Some triggers they look out for are:

  • Social Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Stress
  • Family Issues

When such factors arise, parents are quick to point at Internet dependence as the cause. But what really comes first in this chicken and egg scenario? I can see how my online life can affect my offline life, but I have to acknowledge the fact that the Internet also provides an escape from social anxiety, work stress, and family issues. I have a feeling, however, that parents with kids whose noses are glued to a screen don't see it the same way. But is sending them to a camp the best solution?

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When Does Our Time On The Internet Become Too Much?

People like to think that as technology advances, mankind regresses. As Einstein once said, “I fear the day that technology will surpass our human interaction, the world will have a generation of idiots.” And older generations tend to agree, accusing those who have grown up with the Internet as being addicted.

Interestingly, the general consensus in China is that "Internet addiction" means excessively going online for reasons not related to work or school. Further, Chinese medical experts classify Internet addicts as those who spend at least six hours online a day, and also exhibit difficulty concentrating. Basically, if I lived in China, I would get sent to camp before I could finish double-tapping a video of a talking husky.

In America, ideas of Internet addiction are a little more forgiving. If the amount of time you spend on the Internet is negatively affecting your life, then you have a problem. More definitively, the DSM-V defines Internet addiction similarly to drug addiction, emphasizing its impact on social life as well as professional and scholarly endeavors. I agree more with the U.S. measure of addiction because I believe that the Internet is a big part of my social, professional, and school lives. At times, however, I abuse it and let it negatively affect me. And when that happens, I’ll get sent off to camp, I guess.

Face it: we’re all dependent on the Internet somehow, someway. However Internet addiction doesn’t need to be treated with a three-month long cleansing session in a rehab. Just learn how to obsess less over your online appearance, and moderate your online time.

Date of original publication:
Updated on: November 10, 2015

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