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Internet-crazed Teenager Jumps to Death

A teenager jumped to his death on Tuesday after his parents forbade him to go to an Internet cafe.

Seventeen-year-old Zhang of Shaoxing in east China's Zhejiang Province, was locked in his room after spending three days and nights in the Internet cafe.

His only way to get there was out of the window, four storeys up, and in jumping out he fractured his skull and later died in hospital from his injuries.

The tragedy has sparked concerns about today's Internet lure for young people.

"I never thought that my preventing him from going to the Internet bar could result in his death," said Zhang's father.

He said his son was once a computer student at a local vocational school, and computers became his life.

"I don't really understand what kind of world there was for him on the Internet. But he has changed into another person since he began surfing the Web," said his father.

He said Zhang would often skip classes to go to the Internet bar. In May earlier this year, he left with no regard for his parents' objections.

"He used to be a nice brother. But then he fell in love with the Internet and seemed to care for nothing else," said Zhang's 14-year-old sister.

It is hard to tell what role the Internet was playing in Zhang's life, experts said.

"Was it a good thing to introduce him to this brand new world on the net - or a bad thing to block his communication with the actual world around him?" said Wang Xiaozhao, a professor from Beijing's Tsinghua University.

"From the moment the Internet came into being, an intangible world was created for us," said Wang.

"While people are realizing their dreams with the help of the Internet, we must also see that some serious social problems have also occurred because of our misusing this totally created world," Wang said.

(China Daily 06/23/2001)

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