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China's Internet Addiction Camps



For VOA Learning English, this is the Technology Report.

The internet is one of the most popular forms of technology. But can using the internet have the same effect as taking a drug? The answer seems to be "yes" in at least one country. China says many teenagers have grown dependent on the internet. China calls them internet addicts. In fact, China says that internet addiction is the biggest threat to its teenagers. Some critics even call the internet, 'electronic heroin'. In 2008, China became one of the first countries to declare internet addiction an official medical condition.

Experts released a report that defined the condition, or disorder. It said people with Internet Addiction Disorder spend more than six hours online doing something other than work or study. Based on the definition, China has over 20 million internet addicts. The condition has led to the creation of over 250 camps within China. They are designed to treat young addicts. The camps treat the country's young addicts for their dependence on the internet and video gaming. Teenagers can spend three to four months at a camp. Once there, the patients are required to do demanding physical exercises and take medication. Some patients reportedly are placed in rooms by themselves for up to 10 days.

Shosh Shlam and Hilla Medalia are filmmakers from Israel. They released a documentary called Web Junkie. It tells about the internet addition camps. Their film was produced at the Daxing treatment center in Beijing. China is not the only country dealing with internet addiction. South Korea has opened over 100 treatment centers for teenagers.

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