INTERNET BREEDING Chinese youth are more addicted to video games. text messaging and online chats than any other group I have seen worldwide. Students will happily risk a failing grade in class in order to keep up with the daily movements of their friends. They text message each other so often that GPS is uneccessary. Beijing has been concerned for a while and bootcamps for the addicted are springing up country-wide. The Beijing Military Region Central Hospital was turned into a boot camp for the Internet-addicted a few months ago. According to the director of China’s of the program, people treated there have a hard time distinguishing between real and virtual worlds. Me too, but it has nothing to do with the Internet and more with being an expat… Clients ( I will call them draftees) are subjected to punitive drills intended to curb their Internet appetite. The two week treatment includes electric acupuncture, psychological counselling (the Chinese are still working on this….Counseling=”Do this!”) and anti-depressants. The whole program costs about $1,000 USD. Cheap by US standards, expensive here. Even then the hospital intends to have 150 full beds soon. In an article in Zhonghua Rising it is reported that one boy, destined for a top ranked college, committed suicide as a result of failed attempts at college due to Internet addiction: “One boy, passed his college entrance exams for the fourth time. The first three times he ended up dropping out of school for not studying. He was at the Internet Cafe. His prof’s say his scores were excellent and the boy, now 23, could have gone to one of the most prestigious universities in China. However, his obsession with Internet surfing and computer games proved to be his downfall. One prof says, this boy “is a typical example of those students who have no trouble with exams in China’s exam-oriented middle school education but fail to adapt to college life where the emphasis is on self-study and all-round development.”‘ I see it here at my school, but feel pretty helpless. Most administrators ignore the issue and are quick to cover-up remnants of a suicide. My school last year had two suicides. The schools seem more bent on money-making and expansion than on education or social adjustment. More to come.

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