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Banning computers to fight addictions
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To prevent students from playing too many video games, some universities have banned freshmen from owning computers - stirring up quite a controversy in the process.

Schools including Zhejiang, Nanjing and Shanghai Jiaotong universities instituted the ban with the start of the new semester in September.

They said the measure will help freshmen avoid becoming addicted to computer games.

The students will be allowed to bring computers to campus starting their sophomore year.

The regulation was first put in place at several universities in central China's Hubei Province several years ago.

At Huazhong University of Science and Technology in Hubei Province, no freshmen including, those who major in computer science, are allowed to own computers. The school shut down the freshmen dormitory network, and, freshmen are not allowed to log onto the Internet without permission.

China is home to 30 million online gamers, many of them college students. Addiction to online games has been found to affect undergraduates' ability to learn, causing headaches for many schools.

Is banning computers the answer?

Internet cafes, where many freshmen play games, can be found near many school campuses.

Some experts have said that instead of banning computers, campus network administrators could instead filter out inappropriate sites, which would simultaneously free up bandwidth and monitor student's online conduct.

"More than half of my classmates bought computers when they started their second year. Most of them use computers to play games. Some male students like to play online games.

"I applaud the ban. Life without computers can also be fun and full of color. When I first entered college two years ago, I was busy joining student groups and making new friends."

Yu Kunzhang, a student at Wuhan Polytechnic University

"The solution to Internet addiction is enhancing education and guidance. A one-year ban on owning a computer will have limited results because well-off students can purchase computers and may form addictions. Therefore, preventing people from owning computers is not worthy of promotion. "

Tao Hongkai, an expert on quitting computer addictions and a professor at Central China Normal University

"Freshmen do not understand university life and have less self-restraint. Barring them from owning computers will help them develop good study habits, effectively preventing them from becoming obsessed with computer games and the Net."

Wang Xuemei, an education official in Hubei

"The computer is only a tool. Whether it keeps people from learning depends on the user. If we ban computers today, we might see ban on cell phones tomorrow as cell phone can also be used to play online games. The ban is nave and is reminiscent of when some colleges tried to ban students from falling in love more than a decade ago.

"If the campus life is rich enough, the schools should have no need to ban computers."

Wang Xiaoyu, a college teacher in Shanghai

(China Daily October 12, 2007)

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