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China: Too much time online? You got psychosis.

Facebook, twitter, blog, facebook, email, online game, then blog, how long have you stayed online? If you have stared at your computer screen and clutched your mouse for over 6.13 hours a day (not including work time), you are, I am sorry, a person of mental disorder according to the latest official definition in China.

China will be the first country to define internet addiction as a type of mental disorder. The national Ministry of Health has accepted a manual by Chinese psychologists which categorizes obsession with internet as a mental disease, and it is expected to turn into a guideline for all the hospitals in China very soon.

Symptoms of net addiction, as the manual introduces, include impulsive use of internet, irritation and unreasonable distress when offline, and the failure to concentrate.

According to the leading expert Dr. Tao in the country’s first addiction treatment center, of the young group that takes the majority of 253 million netizens in China, about 10% have been inflicted by the addiction, most of them male. His research on 3000 patients shows they might have strong psychological dependence on internet, which undermine their normal social activities and daily life. It is pointed out that online games which now totally take up over 4800 million users in China, such as World of Warcraft, are a great problem that they weaken users’ ability to distinguish virtual world from the real.

Also, internet may contribute to crime rate. 76% of juvenile offenses in the capital city of Beijing are related to the Internet, said Dr Tao.

It is not the first time, however, for the Chinese government to regulate the booming online industry. It has ordered an “anti-obsession” system compulsorily installed on public computers to limit game players’ time online.

Netizen reaction

A great number of internet users are thrilled at their first glance of the definition, recalling their overnighters online.

Is such a categorization ridiculous? Someone think it not at all. An opinion published 4 days ago on New Beijing Daily justifies the regulation.

这些年上了网瘾毁了孩子的报道可是铺天盖地不胜枚举。而且,关乎
成瘾医学的研究与防范是科学,不仅网瘾被纳入精神病范畴,工作成瘾、购物成
瘾、饮食成瘾、性成瘾、烟酒成瘾等都被看作是成瘾疾病。所以,网游成瘾纳入
精神病管理不是人格歧视,而是科学界定。

In these years, the number of children spoiled by addiction to internet is almost huge…..addiction to work, shopping, food, sex and smoking are all treated as disease. So, taking net addiction into the category is not meant to humiliate, but to make a scientific classification.

And the writer states why it should be taken as a disease:

确立网瘾属于精神疾病,就可以在专业医学的指导下进行药物、心理双管齐
下的戒断治疗,根除心魔,涤荡蛰伏于意识深处的网游诱惑。精神病学的实践证明,网络成瘾是可以治疗的,一般治疗时间为3个月左右,80%
的患者都可以通过治疗摆脱瘾病。

To confirm the addiction as psychosis, professional medical methods would then be employed to sever people from the online games and resist the internet's temptation. Psychiatry practice has proved that the disorder is curable. 80% patients are likely to recover within 3 months.

In bullog.cn, blogger Xiaoyao 逍-遥 cited the opinion above with a title:

奇文 网瘾=精神病

Freaking article: net addiction=psychosis

Netizen “Cold” replied:

我们都是精神病

We are all psychosis.

Baiyongbing 白咏冰3 said:

同性恋也需要治疗、上网时间长也需要治疗、吃得多要治疗、吃得少也要治疗……

Gay need to be cured, staying long time online need to be cured, eating too much need to be cured, eating too less need to be cured too…..

And Li qingchen 李清晨 opposed the new categorization because the label might be a lifetime trauma to the kids:

孩子一旦进入这个地方,等于给他打上了一个标签,因此而造成的心理影响也是无法估量的。

Once a kid has been to the place (treatment center), he is labeled. The degree of mental trauma the kid suffers from would be immeasurable.

10 comments

  • It’s ridiculous to invent something called \internet addiction\. First, Most of those kids commit crimes usually lack parental guide. And Net Bar is a place where they can have self-confidence and acceptance from peers. Internet is not the real reason. Second, many netizens stayed on line like ALL DAY, but it doesn’t mean they are addictive because internet can almost do everything: study, search, communication, and business. It’s not wired for a student who writes a research paper to stay online more than 7 hours a day.

  • agree with what 李清晨said.

  • […] will be the first country to define internet addiction as a type of mental […]

  • Tod

    “If you have stared at your computer screen and clutched your mouse for over 6.13 hours a day, you are, I am sorry, a person of mental disorder according to the latest official definition in China.”

    Initially I concur with Steven Tang’s comment. But as I went through the tranlation and the original article, I detected a obviously lost of meaning in translation.

    The original article did exclude the time spent on work. And actually the “6.13 hours” the study came up with was actually based on a survey on 3000 Internet addics, indicating Internet addics typicall spend 6.13 hours per day online, which was also compared to a US-based research result of 6.14 hs/d as well). The article did not refer to regular Internet users.

    While in the translation, my impression is different-if you spend on average 6.13 hours a day, you are dianosed with a new type of mental disorder. I suspect the translator would be so dumb as to misinterpret the Chinese article. I question his motives.

    “According to the leading expert Dr. Tao in the country’s first addiction treatment center………….are a great problem that they weaken users’ ability to distinguish virtual world from the real.”

    This piece of beautiful translation went further. It just took things out of the context and hoked up a phony bloney statement.Somehow I’m impressed wih the depth of intelligence/imagination the translator displayed (or his idoicy, depending on your outlook)

    Next time, please DO NOT provide the link to the article. It is harder to convince your audience.

  • Will

    Being a person currently sitting at a bus stop with a laptop surfing blogs, while surrounded by college people partying at bars and nightclubs, I can certainly see where classification as an addiction would be appropriate. Feeling naked without a cell phone or computer isn’t a laughing matter, it’s frighteningly close to the dystopian cyberpunk vision of our future.

  • Interesting post Bob.

    Trendsspotting reported long back the internet addiction in china vis-a-vis US
    http://www.trendsspotting.com/blog/?p=258

    Also worth mentioning – Trendsspotting handbook of online china,clearly showing various uses & trends .
    http://www.trendsspotting.com/blog/?p=446

  • Interesting Tod! It is a great pleasure to have a reader of such scrutiny. And I have to agree, I should note that the 6.13 hours excludes work time.

    However, I am confused by your other points.

    You say, the 6.13 hour should only apply to internet addicts, instead of common users. But I wonder, isn’t time span of staying online exactly one yardstick to judge whether some one is addictive? Why can’t this ruler be used to measure common users? If someone has some symptoms of a certain disease, we decide he is ill, not that we first decide he’s ill than we are allowed to associate the symptoms with him, isn’t it?

    Regarding symptoms, I do have provided “impulsive use of internet, irritation and unreasonable distress when offline, and the failure to concentrate” as a yardstick other than time.

    Moreover, you say one piece of my translation misses the crucial context. Could you please make it more specific rather than just the hostile language?

    If you are questioning my data, you can refer to the text. If you are questioning my approach to handle the data, please tell what’s wrong, and I would like to discuss it with you. If you question my way to synthesize the doctor’s point to make it easy to read, please tell me your understanding too.

    But I am grateful you indeed alert me of sorting out more clearly the sources. And sorry, I add one more, rather than delete them as you advised. Please check it. Welcome more comments.

  • @Apurba
    Great information, thanks!
    I see a line says “More than one third of Chinese netizens spend 1-3 hours daily on BBS.” And some data suggest Chinese really are more obsessed with internet compared to Americans. So being alert might well be a good measure.
    So as you see, you can also find in my post some people strongly argue for the “psychosis” definition.

    A question I am thinking is why so? Our real life is so dismaying that we favor the virtual reality more? Does it have anything to do with our atheist orthodox? It is worth books…I think.

  • […] Nonsense in its purest form. But they’re no doubt entirely serious about it. As long as they can lock people up and administer electric shocks, they’re happy. Defining whatever you don’t like as a “disease” so you can force people to undergo “treatment” has always been part of totalitarian rule. « At long last … […]

  • […] Beitrag erschien zuerst auf Global Voices. Die Übersetzung erfolgte durch Ingrid Fischer-Schreiber, Teil des “Project […]

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