The Telegraph visited a controversial Chinese military-style boot camp where parents send their sons in the hope of break their internet addiction. China has more online gamers, 368 million, than the United States has people. Internet addiction is a real clinical disorder that afflicts 24 million of young Chinese people.
The Internet Addiction Treatment Center is located in a Beijing suburb and it hosts 70 patients, mostly boys. Led by Tao Ran (pictured above), a former army colonel who used to treat heroin addicts, the rehab centre cures its guests with military discipline, brain scans, drugs and psychotherapy. The team claims that these methods have a 75 percent success rate.
The day of the residents usually starts at 6:30 with a shrill whistle. The patients line up in the hallway, dressed in camouflage T-shirts. A monitor bellows out each of their names, a routine that is repeated a further five times a day. They have 20 minutes to wash and arrive at the exercise ground for the military training.
Once the addicted is ready to go back home there is a follow-up ‘after-care’ schedule, and parents are briefed on how best to supervise their child’s gradual reintegration to the web. Tao considers a patient cured if the person is able to use the internet for less than six hours a day six months after leaving the centre.
There are already about 300 clinics in China that incorporate Tao Ran’s military discipline model, and he hopes his treatment will become standard practice for internet addiction.