Chinese teenagers hooked on the internet are being subjected to electro-shock therapy at a clinic that claims they will be eborn free of the obsession.
However, its harsh methods have caused an outcry after some of the 3,000 youths treated so far began posting their experiences - on the web.Overuse of the internet has become a household worry in China. The country has more than 300m internet users, 40m of whom play online games.
An official study two years ago claimed that almost 10% of the nation young people were ddicted to the web According to the media the physical and psychological conditions associated with such a craving include depression, muscle weakness, fainting and anorexia.
Now thousands of parents who despair of turning their children minds back to school have resorted to Dr Yang Yonxin, a charismatic and forceful physician who says he has a ure
His 100 or so young inmates, mostly boys under 16, have been sent to the treatment centre in Shandong province, eastern China, by their parents because they have become hyperactive and uncontrollable.
Yang methods include psychological tactics that some older Chinese would recall from the cultural revolution. The boy or girl is made to write a confession and kneel in front of his or her parents.
Patients become embers of the alliance once inside the clinic, according to a report in The China Daily, and are forbidden to speak about anything except their struggle to escape the addiction.
The clinic has 86 rules. The regulations prescribe electric shocks as punishment for isdeeds such as eating chocolate and locking the bathroom door. In an online article under his name, Yang says that his is a acred crusade for the family. Former patients, writing online, claim the shocks, some severe, were administered continuously.
Yang denies this, saying the shocks are mild and harmless, intended to help teenagers to calm down slowly as they free themselves from their obsessions.
The parents sign a contract agreeing to the electric shock treatment and pay 600 a month in fees, more than three times the average urban monthly wage, usually for a minimum of three months.
Several have defended Yang, saying a short period of harsh treatment is preferable to months of drug therapy to put their children back on the straight and narrow, The China Daily reports.
However, more orthodox physicians have started to criticise Yang authoritarian approach. Tao Ran, the founder of China first nternet addiction clinic, has said children need love, car and attention from parents, friends and teachers.
e should educate and lead these children instead of treating them as psycho-paths to be dosed with drugs and electric shocks,added Tao Hongkai, a professor of education at Central China University. Nonetheless, Yang has struck a chord among a generation perplexed and upset by the epidemic of internet usage among Chinese youth, which can include viewing pornography, despite a legion of censors.
In other measures, parents have forced some local authorities to shut down internet cafes and online games operators are supposed to install a atigue system that blocks users under 18 from playing more than three hours a day.
A key reason for adult anxiety is that most parents have only one child in whom all their hopes are invested. Computer addiction wrecks their academic chances in China hyper-competitive exam system.