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Young Addict's Suicide Sounds Stark Warning

A recent case of suicide by a boy addicted to Internet games has increased the public's concern over the issue of Internet Addiction Disorder (IAD).


Xiao Yi, a 13-year-old from Tianjin, committed suicide thinking that he would meet his friends from cyber space after he died.


He jumped from the top of a 24-storey high-rise, Beijing Youth Daily reported yesterday.


He left four notes before he committed suicide. In the letters Xiao, playing the role of a character from a computer game, said that he wanted to meet three friends who also played the game in paradise.


He did not even mention his parents in the letters.


His father is reported to have said that his child had been a good student until he became addicted to computer games. The boy was studying at a key junior high school, and before he became interested in computer games, he scored high marks in all his exams.


But afterwards, he hardly ever passed a test.


"My kid was like someone taking drugs who could not control himself," said his father.


"His mother and I were very worried about him. But we knew little about the Internet and we did not know how to save him."


His father also recalled that his son would sometimes stay out for one or two nights, spending all his time playing computer games in Internet bars.


The last time his parents found him in a cyber cafe, Xiao Yi had not had any food for two days. He is said to have made a tearful confession to his father, saying that he had been poisoned by the games and could not control himself.


Experts say that attention should be raised about the issue among young people, who are vulnerable to IDA.


According to a survey conducted by Beijing Normal University in 2002, among 600 students at secondary schools in Beijing's nine districts, 88 percent had played electronic games and 24 percent had played Internet games.


About 23 percent of respondents admitted that they spent three to six hours playing games every day. And 7 percent of those surveyed said that they had played continuously for more than 20 hours, Beijing Youth Daily said.


People diagnosed as IAD find it hard to stop playing computer games.


Liu Min, an official from the China Software Industry Association, told Beijing Youth Daily that many students are burdened with their studies. Because of a lack of ways to relax, most of them turn to computer games.


In the hypothetical world created by such games, they become confident and gain satisfaction, which they cannot get in the real world, he said.


Shen Qiyun, a professor at Beijing Normal University, who has studied the influence on teenagers of such games since 2001, said that currently 80 percent of computer games are imported from abroad, half of which are related to a "demon world," martial arts and violence, which are not healthy influences on teenagers.


Qian Niping, aged 15 and studying at a junior second school in Beijing, said, "It is interesting and exciting to play the games together with other people online. Sometimes we spend a lot of time playing the games to get better. Then we can show off our achievements to our classmates."


The country has strengthened its supervision and management of computer games. A special committee was set up last year by the Ministry of Culture to examine computer games from abroad.


(China Daily May 31, 2005)

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