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Chinese "Web Addicts" Get Boot Camp, Therapy 279

Posted by timothy
from the wait-until-this-hits-your-block-committee dept.
itwbennett writes "A large number of Chinese parents are finding their teenagers to be exhibiting such psychological symptoms as depression, antisocial behavior, and slipping grades. The cause: Internet addiction. World of Warcraft and Counter-Strike rank beside Chinese role-playing games as those that hook the most patients, says Tao Ran, the founder of a youth rehabilitation center on a Beijing army base. Online chat programs more often hook girls, who make up a handful of Tao's current 70 patients. The teens are subjected to a 'strict regimen of military drills, martial arts training, lectures and sessions with psychiatrists.' And, most importantly: no Internet."
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Chinese "Web Addicts" Get Boot Camp, Therapy

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  • Boys and Girls (Score:4, Insightful)

    by arizwebfoot (1228544) * on Thursday July 09, 2009 @07:28PM (#28644157)

    World of Warcraft and Counter-Strike... those that hook the most patients (boys)

    Online chat programs more often hook girls

    Why am I not surprised that the girls like to talk and the boys like to play combat (remember cowboys and indians? cops and robbers?).

    Very indicative of our society as a whole. Just sayin' . . .

  • by Darkness404 (1287218) on Thursday July 09, 2009 @07:40PM (#28644301)
    ...Except for the fact that I consider it a right to use what you payed for so long as it doesn't hurt anyone else. This "boot camp" takes away those rights (anyone else find it just a bit suspicious that its located on an army base?).
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday July 09, 2009 @07:51PM (#28644423)

    The idea that "fat camp" is any more acceptable than this crap is deplorable.

  • by fishbowl (7759) on Thursday July 09, 2009 @07:52PM (#28644429)

    It's *China*. When it comes down to it, nobody has any rights, in the sense that Europeans or Americans think of rights.

  • by CorporateSuit (1319461) on Thursday July 09, 2009 @08:04PM (#28644543)

    How? I'd imagine that a ton more people are more severely addicted to TV, sports, books and activities considered "normal" than are "addicted" to MMOs. I'd imagine the guy who spends 6 hours a day playing WoW is better off then the guy who goes to the gym for 6 hours a day. As for social progress, its a lot more social to fire up a game of WoW and chat than it is to go to the gym. And intellectual? With WoW you are constantly reading and writing and doing math.

    Spending 6 hours a day doing something does not make it an addiction. Suffering from depression because you aren't spending 6 hours a day doing something makes it an addiction (outside of sleeping and autonomous functions). Addiction will cause everything directly not linked to that addiction to suffer as a result of it to one degree or another. Spending time talking to people in Azeroth is not as socially healthy as talking to people face to face. It's healthier than spending time in front of a tv or book. As a freetime activity, it's healthier than many things unless you let it become detrimental to your real non-make-believe life. It's not a problem when an activity is a healthy relief of pressure and stress... It's a problem when it's an addiction, then you may need help to return it to normal, healthy levels.

  • by Dr. Impossible (1580675) on Thursday July 09, 2009 @08:33PM (#28644735)

    I'd imagine the guy who spends 6 hours a day playing WoW is better off then the guy who goes to the gym for 6 hours a day.

    I also hear that drinking Coca-Cola is a lot better than drinking water.

    As for social progress, its a lot more social to fire up a game of WoW and chat than it is to go to the gym.

    You might end up talking to someone at the gym, and at the very least you're among people. When you're playing WoW you're all by yourself. Contrary to what some nerds tell themselves, chatting online does nothing to improve your social skills.

    And intellectual? With WoW you are constantly reading and writing and doing math.

    I can't remember ever doing any math in WoW, and the reading was mostly limited to finding out what I need to kill next.

    You did not explain how WoW keeps you in shape and improves your physical health (oh, wait, it doesn't!).

    World of Warcraft is not productive or useful, and not a substitute for social interaction, intellectual stimulation and excercise.

  • by wintermute000 (928348) <bender@planetexp ... u ['ss.' in gap]> on Thursday July 09, 2009 @08:41PM (#28644795)

    Addicted to gym is worse than addicted to WoW?

    Now I've heard it all.

    Every time I read about someone proclaiming the virtues of WoW and how it teaches reading, writing, math etc. I just have to laugh and wonder whether the OP is just trying to justify their own pathetic (yes, I think WoW addicts are pathetic) addictions

  • by CorporateSuit (1319461) on Thursday July 09, 2009 @08:51PM (#28644877)
    With your first point, you're setting up strawmen. Depression from loss or trauma is not the same as withdrawal symptoms. I used the line to make a very limited, simple point. There's no argument in stretching it beyond the point it was meant to make. I didn't feel it neccessary to write an 60,000 word essay on the differences between hobby and addiction.

    With your second paragraph, you're skirting the issue. Is it a better social experience to speak with a friend face to face or online? It's healthier to talk to a person than to talk to words on a screen. Allow me to make an analogy of this conversation if we were discussing food:
    Me: It's healthier to eat vegetables than junk food. It's ok to eat junk food as long as it's not interfering with the rest of your diet.
    You: What if junk food is all you have? Not everyone has vegetables available.

    It is simplified, but contains the neccessary arguments. I believe you are capable of answering your own questions at this point, even if they were meant to be rhetorical (I won't assume whether they were or were not).
  • by hengdi (1202709) on Thursday July 09, 2009 @09:02PM (#28644939)
    Most students that I teach in China (18-22) can't afford the computer required, so they play WOW and CS at their Internet bar. These places are usually dark, dingy and full of second-hand cigarette smoke. They make some of my teenage hacker basements look positively healthy. So I think it's not that the parents are really worried about the length of time spent playing, it's the conditions they are played under.
  • by plasticsquirrel (637166) on Thursday July 09, 2009 @09:06PM (#28644965)
    That's because "rights" are an idea from western civilization, and most other cultures had different notions about justice and social harmony. Considering that over 40 million Chinese died during the "Great Leap Forward," and countless more before that in previous wars and revolutions, we don't have the same perspective on stability that they do. The coastal city of Ningbo, for example, was bombed with the bubonic plague by the Japanese during World War II. The amount of violence and upheaval that the Chinese have faced in the last hundred years is incredible, and sometimes I think that we Slashdotters would do well to relax and give them some time to sort things out (it is their own country, after all). They have a 5000 year old civilization, after all, and things aren't going to implode because pimply-faced teenage kids have to do martial arts rather than play World of Warcraft.
  • Re:Mod up (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Darkness404 (1287218) on Thursday July 09, 2009 @09:42PM (#28645215)
    There is a difference between excessive to one person and excessive to another. I know plenty of people who don't get very much activity, eat things loaded in sugar and fat, yet are incredibly skinny and healthy looking. I know other people who exercise a ton, eat extremely healthy food choices, yet are very, very large. There are some reasons for obesity that go way beyond just what you eat. Some bodies have a natural tendency to be large, others have a natural tendency to be very skinny. You should not punish parents for something they can't really control.
  • by Darkness404 (1287218) on Thursday July 09, 2009 @09:45PM (#28645243)
    Rights are an important part of humanity. Depriving people of that deprives them of their humanity. If we can't judge the Chinese government for depriving citizens of rights, then thats no different then allowing waterboarding in the US (its part of our culture) or cannibalism (theres nothing wrong with cannibalism, its part of their culture).
  • Re:Good idea. (Score:2, Insightful)

    by MindlessAutomata (1282944) on Thursday July 09, 2009 @09:45PM (#28645247)

    Basically, you've been brainwashed to obey orders and view people who live their own lives as "useless." Ah, the military, gotta love 'em.

  • by rothic (596907) on Thursday July 09, 2009 @09:49PM (#28645271)

    ...sometimes I think that we Slashdotters would do well to relax and give them some time to sort things out...

    The Chinese are going to "sort things out" whether Slashdotters relax, don't relax or even throw a massively coordinated e-tantrum. Slashdot isn't actually really all that influential as it turns out.

  • better than ECT (Score:2, Insightful)

    by euyis (1521257) <euyis.infinity-game@com> on Thursday July 09, 2009 @09:54PM (#28645297)
    It's much better than electroconvulsive therapy, which they have used.
  • by Zakabog (603757) <[moc.guamj] [ta] [nhoj]> on Thursday July 09, 2009 @10:11PM (#28645427)
    I really don't think this is going to work, I've been through boot camp (USMC), and once I went back to civilian life (I had a shoulder injury that prevented me from finishing the last week of training and then going on to serve.) I was pretty much the same person. The only difference is when I came out I had military training, I feel more calm in stressful situations than I did before, and I'm more confident in my fighting and survival abilities. I still play video games and browse the internet as much as I did before I joined the Marines. So if you go into boot camp as an internet addicted teenager you're going to come out as an internet addicted teenager, with military training. Unless they're sending them into the army right after they're not going to keep in that mindset, they're going to go back to the internet and their video games. Perhaps sending them to a summer camp where they have many activities to choose from would be a better idea. Hikes through the woods, swimming, sports, and being encourage to speak to other people and socialize would be good for these people. The boot camp seems like it would be too much like work for these kids and they would just resent it rather than enjoy it.
  • Re:Good idea. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by sonamchauhan (587356) <sonamc@g[ ]l.com ['mai' in gap]> on Thursday July 09, 2009 @10:20PM (#28645471) Journal

    Yes, he's been trained. He still has free choice (he's posting to slashdot, isn't he?), and his training helped him overcome his previous undisciplined, capricious habits.

    While you, dear person, are trying to brainwash others into your peculiar groupthink - that military style training aimed at developing self-discipline is "brainwashing" and inherently evil.

  • Re:Mod up (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Dantu (840928) on Thursday July 09, 2009 @10:52PM (#28645677)

    I know plenty of people who don't get very much activity, eat things loaded in sugar and fat, yet are incredibly skinny and healthy looking. I know other people who exercise a ton, eat extremely healthy food choices, yet are very, very large. There are some reasons for obesity that go way beyond just what you eat....

    Fair enough - but you seem to be making a classic mistake. It's not so much what you eat, but how much of it, that determines your weight. Now, as someone who has to work to control his weight - yes, I envy my fiance, who can eat whatever he wants. But the difference isn't that he can magically eat way more than I can - it's that his appetite is more easily sated. Sure there are also metabolism differences, but in reality a very obese person is almost certain to be burning more calories than a thin person at a similar level of physical activity, because all that fat takes energy just to keep alive, and more still to move around.

    Where I'm going with this is: sure, life isn't fair. It's more difficult to control eating for some than for others - but at the end of the day what you eat is a conscious choice. Helping teach, encourage, and in some cases force (depending on age, we "force" young kids to do everything) people to eat in a way that will lead to a healthier life can be justified.

  • Re:Good idea. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by ihavnoid (749312) on Friday July 10, 2009 @12:07AM (#28645883)

    Having gone through Boot Camp myself (Not in United States, I live in a country where millitary service is mandatory) I also highly recommend it as a means of turning useless people into productive citizens. On the other side, it is a good way to turn useful people into far less productive citizens.

    My opinion is that, the main goal of the boot camp is to create an average person, not too smart, not to dumb, not too hardworking, not to lazy, etc. Transforming normal people into standardized soldiers.

    The problem is, that when that person returns to his original environment, it doesn't take so long to see a 'standardized' person to return to his normal lifestyle. I saw numerous friends who found out 'how lazy they were, and how worthless they were' on the boot camp, and found that they also can achieve things if they try hard enough. However, after finishing their millitary service and returning to their original environment, it didn't take long to return to their original life pattern.

    What I saw, along with many other people saw, was that game addiction, and probably web addiction, is an symptom of other problems, not itself being the problem. Those guys may have problem with their friends, their school, their parents, or whatsoever. Sending them to the boot camp may solve some of them (no more school, no more previous friends, and no more parents yelling at you), but once they are out of the boot camp, everything returns to the previous state.

  • by bogjobber (880402) on Friday July 10, 2009 @03:21AM (#28646689)

    We're not talking about different notions of justice and social harmony here. They don't have to have the same government and society as us, but everyone should be guaranteed basic human dignities such as freedom of speech, press, religion, assembly, protest, fair trial, petition, etc. I am pretty impressed with the progress China has made in the last 30 years, but that doesn't mean they don't deserve criticism. But plenty of countries have gone through hard times and the ravages of war without turning into totalitarian states.

    Just look at what they are doing in Xinjiang right now. They repress Uiger culture and language, while forbidding Muslims from worshiping freely. The Han ethnic group has been encouraged to migrate in and are given preference for jobs. They are systematically destroying a culture. That is racial and cultural oppression, not "different notions about justice."

    And can we stop with the 5000 year old civilization nonsense? It's not like they've been stable for that whole time period. And only in retrospect can the vast array of civilizations that existed in that area of East Asia over the last 5000 years ago be called Chinese. They've had empires rise and collapse, gained and lost vast swaths of territory, been invaded and conquered multiple times, had entire systems of governments collapse, religions appear, spread, and disappear. They aren't any more or less stable than any other ancient civilization, they just started earlier.

  • by Opportunist (166417) on Friday July 10, 2009 @03:31AM (#28646735)

    This is, btw, also why DARE is pretty much a waste of time and taxpayer money. But that's not the topic now.

    What is "addiction"? Basically that the body (or mind) wants some stimulus that you handed him for a long time. Why does it want it? Because the stimulus was/is positive and not getting it is subjectively negative.

    Which leads to the crucial question: Why did you start taking/using it in the first place? It's not like someone goes "Hey, it's Tuesday, it's colder than outside, let's start pumping heroin up our veins!" That's not how it works. Hell, by now pretty much everyone knows that addictive substances and behaviour are, in the long run, bad for you. Do you think anyone who started pushing thought H is "not really so bad"?

    Drugs are a last resort means for people who have no other way to get a positive stimulus to their system. The worse they're off, the worse the drug they'll be willing to use. Let's be honest here, anyone here pushing H? Anyone? Somehow, I doubt it. Maybe we have a few ex addicts here, in that case the question to you: Were you as "well off" back then as you're now?

    China, with its one-child policy, imposed an insane pressure on its youth. Parents only have one child to carry on their legacy, and that child has to PERFORM! Add a confucianist ideal and a booming market where anyone "smart working hard" can become rich and important, and you'll notice that not even a "western" only child can possible imagine what the pressure is like.

    So, to make a long story short, those "boot camps" (and similar programs all over the planet, albeit maybe not as brutal) will not accomplish anything. Worst case they'll make it worse. They try to cure the symptom, but that won't solve the underlying problem. Addiction is never the problem itself. Take away an addict's "substance" but fail to solve the problem behind it and he'll just search for something new.

  • Re:Mod up (Score:4, Insightful)

    by plastbox (1577037) on Friday July 10, 2009 @03:38AM (#28646761) Homepage
    Stop it! Stop justifying obesity by giving fatties excuses! The general public is dumb enough to actually be grossly overweight in the first place, do you really think they need to repeatedly hear people say things like "well, some lucky bastards are just born with a high metabolism!", "Being large is beautiful!", "Beauty comes form the inside, there is nothing wrong with beeing plus sized"?

    Fact is, you CAN'T gain weight if you put less energy into your system than you expend! Finding an online basal metabolic rate [wikipedia.org] calculator [about.com] isn't very hard either. Now, if you can't be arsed to learn anything about how your body works, spend 5 minutes with Google to find a BMR calculator and pay attention to how much you actually eat... Live a life unable to go to the beach, make people uncomfortable when you undress at the beach, get diabetes type 2 and die of heart complications at age 40.

    Just don't force that on your children. If you do, you should be reported for child abuse.

    On a somewhat related note.. I live in Norway and I can safely say that even though we are nowhere near USA level of crazy obesity, things are starting to change here as well. 7-8 years ago when I was in highschool, there were <5 overweight people in my entire school of ~300 students. These days, nearly everyone I see between age 15-19 is at least 5-10kg overweight. Hell, even the ones who happen to eat as much as they burn still look out of shape with girls sporting untrained thin thighs and flabby asses and the guys possessing the same level of upper body strength as my little sister! The exceptions are the morbidly obese and the sickly skinny, who seem to make up about the same percentage of the population now as the "10kg too much"-portion did a few years ago. Not "super size me" by any means, but still that is a lot different than a few years back!
  • by Opportunist (166417) on Friday July 10, 2009 @04:45AM (#28647093)

    You mean you turn someone who is antisocial, depressed and angry into someone who is antisocial, depressed and angry with military training and self esteem.

    I think the Chinese will soon live in very interesting times.

  • Re:Mod up (Score:3, Insightful)

    by DrLang21 (900992) on Friday July 10, 2009 @10:09AM (#28649217)
    I'm no longer convinced that it's about how much you eat, but rather what you eat. You can feast on carrots, green beans, peppers, and broccoli all day and I would put money down that you won't gain weight from it. Our society is overloaded with high calorie, low nutrition snack foods and deep fried dinners. The idea that you can eat what ever you want so long as you burn it off is just plain misleading. Yes you can go to McDonalds and not fall off the bandwagon. But if you're going to McDonalds every week, or several times a week, there's no way that any normal person, no matter what their metabolism is, is going to be able to just "burn it off".

    Just a note. I actually do hit up the McDonalds drive thru roughly once a week when I don't get a chance to take a lunch to work. I order a salad, which are actually quite good and filling.

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