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Treatment for Game Addiction In China

September 24, 2014

China is famously the first state to recognise and classify internet addiction as a clinical disorder. The 2013 American-Israeli documentary’Web Junkie’ explores internet addiction as it is recognised in China focusing on the treatment used in rehabilitation centres. The co-writter/director and producer team Hilla Medalia and Shosh Shlam secured impressive access as the documentary delves deep into a Beijing treatment centre. We witness the journey of three adolescents from the day they arrive at the centre through the three-month period of their treatment. Crucially, these three protagonists all admit to being avid gamers, indeed much of their professed online addiction revolves around the playing of games.

In the centre, youths from 13 and 18 years are required to undergo military training exercise and comply with monitored sleep and food standards. Overseen by the military guards and surrounded by gates and fences, the centres bear a more than passing resemblance to a prison.

However, it is under the scrutiny and care of sympathetic doctors and nurses that both parents and their children participate in the therapy sessions. These difficult but insightful scenes make for some of the films pivotal and painful moments. It portrays a profoundly distressing conundrum experienced by parents of teenagers worldwide: how to communicate. And even though these centre exist, Chinese parents, doctors and officials are revealed to have as little an idea how to cope with a younger generation that finds more value and meaning in World of Warcraft than their own lives as their counterparts in the west. 

The film provides a fascinating insight into one of the symptoms of the internet age.

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