Electronic Heroin

An inside look at a controversial rehabilitation center in China that is “deprogramming” teenagers who are addicted to the Internet.

Compulsive Internet use is a serious addiction. One Chinese man spent two months straight in an Internet café; another died after playing online games for 40 hours without a break. Dong Nguyen, the creator of the insanely popular game Flappy Birds removed it from circulation because it was too addictive.

China was among the first to label “Internet addiction” a clinical disorder. This New York Times video shows the inner workings The Internet Addiction Treatment Center, a controversial rehabilitation center where Chinese teenagers are “deprogrammed.” Their approach is extreme; it’s hard to imagine a center like this in North America being legal. But they sure are taking internet addiction seriously.

Let us know what you think of this disturbing video in the comment section below.

Comments (13)

(9) Isaacson, February 20, 2014 2:34 PM

this is not about internet addiction

Nothing in the video had to do with internet addiction, it was about video game addiction only.

Anonymous, April 23, 2014 2:07 PM

You're right! Can someone please address this point?

There are a few different issues here:
1. Internet addiction in general
2. Electronic games
3. Issues that guardyoureyes.com can help with

They should not all be mushed into one problem, as they are different and require different solutions.

(8) Chana Parnes, February 20, 2014 11:45 AM

Very disturbing

It's crazy how deep one can sink into an addiction. American internet addicts clearly would need a more lenient approach to rehabilitation than this Chinese method.
I like what Duvid Chaim said about guardyoureyes.com.

(7) Orah, February 20, 2014 6:50 AM

Abusive and useless

From the perspective of efficacy, a program like this is likely to be totally useless. Abusive prorams like this induce trauma in their participants. A truamatized person is likely to seek solace through withdrawal from society, which is exactly the problem that these programs are supposed to treat. (I am a psychotherapist)

(6) Duvid Chaim, February 17, 2014 9:16 PM

There is a SOLUTION!

Having found myself addicted to the Internet and inappropriate sites, I joined SA about 10 years ago. Then I found www.guardyoureyes.com. I learned that the Internet was NOT my problem, it was my SOLUTION. Thanks to the 12 Step Program, I learned that the underlying Resentments and Fears led me to seeking the "comfort" of my addiction. Boruch Hashem, there is a REAL SOLUTION. Please join me and thousands of others who have found Freedom, Serenity and Recovery.

(5) max, February 17, 2014 1:53 PM

I relate

The one line that caught my attention was where one of the kids said "I'm not an addict and I don't want to be here". I'm a recovering internet addict, and while my addiction is primarily porn, the Internet on its own still has an overpowering pull. I used to game all night as well and I missed days of work and this as a grown father of teenagers. the common thread of all addiction is the overwhelming desire to "use" while away from the "drug" and the inability to use anything rational to stop once your in it. for me, the 12 steps of recovery have helped me tremendously in my sex and porn addiction to where my life has enough meaning to let me fill it with worthwhile activities. but I had to stop because I was ready to. sadly at the time that meant sinking to a pretty low bottom but I couldn't find recovery until I was ready. Boot camp is appealing to loved ones of addicts who feel like they are a failure if the addict is still using. it may yet work but forcing a treatment is a short term fix for a problem/disease that last a lifetime.

(4) Anonymous, February 17, 2014 12:15 PM

Internet addiction

Although there is addiction indeed, loneliness etc., one has to differenciate the difference with drugs...
Ok, gambling is more equall.
Really, recognice that is an addiction. What makes it an addiction is that lots of other kids play and it makes you thing then you ar normal. Key is recognize that it is not normal, or realize that other kids may play just sporadically.
Look what most of them had, they did not realize the unormality of their situation becouse they all may not wanted to recognize a deeper problem. Maybe lack of friends, etc. Sol. Fix this instead of scape from it through fictional characters without real idntity.

(3) yehudit, February 17, 2014 7:50 AM

very thought provoking

It is no wonder these teenagers are so lonely since China's draconian laws forbid families to have more than one child (with few exceptions).
The idea is smart: a rehab facility for internet / game addicts. The Chinese version is clearly extreme in nature and doesn't appear to be geared towards any kind of healing or change, rather shock and deterrence. Sadly, it seems to do almost neither and merely increases either the despair or the desire to get back onto the web.
I was utterly shocked to hear about the gamers wearing diapers to allow themselves to continue playing without break. We truly cannot understand the mind of an addict, any addict.
A follow up documentary is clearly NEEDED!!!

(2) Anonymous, February 16, 2014 6:34 PM

Internet and eectronic game addiction is also more of a problem in the US than most of us realize

Although the program looks harsh from an AMerican perspective, there are many boot camps and other temporary residential programs that attempt to deal with this affliction, along with other emotional disturbances, here in the US. There should be more programs specifically dedicated to internet abuse here. I am speaking from personal experience with my son, who was not nearly as addicted as thee teens in the video, but was nonetheless addicted. The phrase, "Get a life" applies here.

(1) Anonymous, February 16, 2014 3:31 PM

The truth.

The producers have created a "cliff-hanger." How long is their treatment? What is the outcome? What about girls? Adults? Parents? What of the parents who buy the game systems and games? What of the gaming cafes? There is room to explore the topic more.

Anonymous, February 16, 2014 4:26 PM

Excellent video and pertinent to US.

Everyone should look at video and then begin to explore more about computer game addiction signs and symptoms. How long does your 2yr old play Mindcraft?

Anonymous, February 16, 2014 4:28 PM

That's the idea

It gives the incentive,hopefully to learn more about computer game addiction and look at your family and friends activities,as well as yourself. Some of your questions are answered in video. Watch again.

P. Melanie Vliet, February 16, 2014 5:07 PM

3-4 Months

I believe that one screen indicated that the treatment lasts for three to four months. You're right, though, in noting that no success rate is indicated. The letter being read by the mother near the end of the film, in combination with the director's accusatory lecture, suggested to me that these young people may learn in treatment that they can trust no one; the Internet is no longer an option, and humans will only deceive and torture them. I wonder if suicide attempts result from this treatment. Like the dragon mom approach, this Chinese solution to a perceived problem seems to go overboard and perhaps make matters worse.


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