Forty youngsters addicted to the Internet will participate in the first summer camp in China to help online addicts get back to normal.
The 10-day camp, which is recruiting participants from Shanghai, will open at the end of the month.
To be considered for the experimental program, potential campers aged 14 to 22 can visit the site with their parents to take a psychological test and speak with professional counselors for evaluation.
According to research by Shanghai's youth affairs office, those seriously addicted to the web should receive medical help, but this rarely happens. A low level of Internet addiction is believed to exist in more than 10 percent of Shanghai youngsters.
Xu Zheng (an alias) was accepted with a very high entrance examination score by the East China University of Science and Technology. However, the young man from Shandong could not adjust to Shanghai campus life without burying himself in computer games. He would play day and night, skipping classes and avoiding friends, until he was pulled out of the Internet cafe by a supervisor.
According to Dr Du Yasong from the Shanghai Mental Health Center, youngsters addicted to the Internet are characterized by poor social abilities, imitating others, or an inability to achieve their goals. When they get frustrated, they often turn to Internet games for a feeling of accomplishment.
There has been no established correction process for these youngsters, the youth affairs office said.
The summer camp will bring together dozens of professionals with experience in 1,171 cases of Internet addiction. They hope to develop an intervention process, then use it in schools, families and communities.
In a joint effort with the camp, Shanghai's education commission has organized a volunteer group to patrol the city's streets to stop people under 18 entering Internet cafes.
In Hongkou District alone, the volunteer network covers more than 70 Internet cafes. Volunteers persuade teenagers to leave the Internet cafes. Others, working with local police, are on the lookout for illegal practices such as online gambling in Internet cafes,
Overcoming addiction to the web does not mean staying away from computers. In Ludi Primary School in Jiading district, students surf the web under the guidance of teachers. In middle schools, students learn about web page design and the Shanghai World Expo 2010 on the Internet.
A survey released last year showed 13.2 percent of teenagers are addicted to the Internet. There are more men addicts than women, and a large number of them are school students.
(China Daily August 7, 2007)