On a update of an earlier post on CDT, China has become the first country to list internet addiction as a mental disorder as stated by the Ministry of Health. According to one of the definitions in a manual by Chinese psychologists, anyone who spends over 6 hours on the computer with a mouse has the disorder, and a guideline is expected to head to hospitals soon. Global Voices Online reports:
Symptoms of net addiction, as the manual introduces, include impulsive use of internet, irritation and unreasonable distress when offline, and the failure to concentrate.
According to the leading expert Dr. Tao in the country’s first addiction treatment center, among the 253 million netizens in China, about 10% have been inflicted by the addiction, most of them male, aged from 18 to 30. His research on 3000 patients shows they might have strong psychological dependence on internet, which undermine their normal social activities and daily life. He points out that online games which now totally take up over 4800 million users in China, such as World of Warcraft, are a great problem that they weaken users’ ability to distinguish virtual world from the real.
Also, internet may contribute to crime rate. 76% of juvenile offenses in the capital city of Beijing are related to the Internet, said Dr Tao.
A selection of netizens’ responses can also be read on the report. This isn’t the first time that China has placed restrictions of online culture, such as crackdowns at internet cafes or deeming gaming a danger.
The Telegraph reports on what the new treatment might entail, which Dr. Tao state will cure 80% of addicts in three months:
Tao Ran, an expert at Beijing’s Military General Hospital, which drew up the diagnosis, said special psychiatric units in Chinese hospitals would be designated to treat addicts.
The popularity of online gaming in Asia has led to the creation of enormous salons in which hundreds of users play games for several days in a row.
China’s government has already tried to limit this practice by forcing each user to register their full name and identification number and by building software into the games which kicks players off after five hours.
Gao Wenbin, a researcher with the psychology institute of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, said Chinese youths were finding refuge online from the pressures of being only children. “Most children in China are the only ones in their families. They are told only to study hard, but no one really cares about their needs,” he said.
See also CDT’s stories on China’s internet censorship and other forms of Internet control.