Qin Xinle’s teenage son had stopped eating meals regularly and had refused to go to school. The boy’s Internet addiction had gotten so bad he sometimes played online games for 24 hours without stop. Finally, at his wit’s end, Qin piled his family into their car and drove 5 hours to Beijing, to check the boy into the Internet addiction center at the Beijing Military Clinic, which occupies space on the campus of the Beijing Military Region Central Hospital. Here, Qin’s son wouldn’t have access to the Internet or a phone for the next 20 days, and he wouldn’t be allowed to leave.
This, China’s first in-patient Internet addiction center, often is fully booked. It currently is expanding its capacity from 40 to 300 beds, and it’s being studied by other hospitals around the country, which plan to open similar wards. So widespread is the concern about teenagers falling prey to the Internet’s allure, the central government has even sought to ban youths under the age of 18 from going to Internet caf√©s.