Even though it was just before Lunar New Year–the most important family holiday on the Chinese calendar–Wang Hongxia was forcing her son out of the house. The 45-year-old accountant had decided to take her 12-year-old from their home in the northwestern city of Xian to a secluded military compound in Beijing, more than 700 miles (1,125 km) away. Like many Chinese parents, Wang felt she had no choice. “Things have absolutely gone out of control,” she said, almost in tears. “My son just beat and bit me again this morning after I wouldn’t let him touch the computer.”
With an estimated 300 million Web users–the most in the world–China is struggling with an epidemic of Internet obsession among its youth. Since the establishment in 2004 of the country’s first Internet-addiction-treatment facility, the China Youth Mental Health Center, more than 3,000 patients have been treated there.