Daxing, China is where one of several highly controversial internet addiction treatment centres for teens has been set up. The centre opened in 2006 and has treated more than 6 000 boys (the addiction purportedly affects fewer Chinese girls than boys) who underwent a therapy designed by Tao Ran, a psychiatrist and colonel in the People’s Liberation Army. Explain Ran: “Internet addiction leads to problems in the brain similar to those derived from heroin consumption.”
China boasts the greatest number of internet users in the world (632 million as of July 2014). Ran has claimed that according to official statistics, 67% of juvenile misdemeanours are committed by young Chinese ‘internet addicts’. His ‘cure’ is based upon a strict military regimen designed to break down and then rebuild ‘addicts’. Antidepressants and other medication are included in the treatment, which costs upwards of 9 300 yuan (R18 574) per month for a period of at least six months – a sum few Chinese families can afford. ‘Re-offenders’ are common.
Ran claims a success rate of 75% since 2008 and about 300 clinics in China have started to incorporate his military model.
Category: Spring 2015