China probes death of 'web addict'

"Boot camp" staff held after 15-year-old dies following alleged severe beating.

    Around 10 per cent of China's internet population are said to be internet addicts [GALLO/GETTY]

    Rising problem

    Medical experts called for new laws and regulations for the treatment of internet addiction following Senshan's death.

    Problems caused by internet over-use are on the rise in China, especially among youths seeking an escape from the burden of parental expectations.

    There are more than 200 organisations offering treatment for internet disorders in China and many camps are run in a military atmosphere.

    Young people are forced to replace hours in front of the computer with arduous physical drills or other extreme "treatments".

    'Total mess'

    In July, the Chinese government banned the use of electro-shock therapy as a treatment for internet addiction after media reports about a psychiatrist who administered electric currents to nearly 3,000 teenagers.

    Experts say internet addiction needs medical treatment and not military training [EPA]

    "The market of internet addiction treatment in China is in a total mess due to lack of diagnostic standards and treatment guidelines," Tao Ran, the director of the country's first internet addiction clinic, told Xinhua.

    He said: "The tragedy is not accidental.

    "Most rehab camps adopt military training, but many teenage Internet addicts cannot handle it well ... it comes with conflicts and violence."

    Tao has long been insisting that internet addiction is a disease which needs medical treatment rather than military training or education.

    His clinic has treated about 5,000 internet-addicted youths since it was founded in 2004.

    China has the world's largest internet population, with approximately 338 million users.

    An estimated 10 per cent are considered to be addicted to the internet.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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