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Freshmen banned from owning computers
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Zhejiang University, Nanjing University and Shanghai Jiaotong University launched a rule during the new term that freshmen are not allowed to buy computers. University authorities asserted that this could prevent freshmen from indulging themselves in electronic games. Experts have raised their doubts about the efficacy of this action, reported Beijing News on October 9.

Universities imposed the ban on freshmen owning computers to keep them from becoming net addicts. Several Wuhan universities set rules years ago to prevent freshmen from buying their own computers because they thought freshmen knew little about university life and how to use the computer rationally. Because authorities felt that freshmen had rather weak self-control, appropriate constraints would thus foster good learning habits and effectively distance them away from computer games and the Internet. 
Huazhong University of Science and Technology set a rule in 2000 that all freshmen, including those majoring in computers, were forbidden to purchase their own computers. They wrote this rule into the student handbook. A responsible person inside the Education Administration Office explained that this measure was enacted because freshmen were unable to control themselves effectively and might easily get lost in the Internet when starting their university life.

Director of the Students' Affairs Division of Wuhan Institute of Technology Wang Xuemei told the reporter that the university enacted a rule in 2002: freshmen are not allowed to buy their own computers and sophomores may purchase computers only after they have passed the CET 4 (College English Test).

People have rather mixed feelings about the efficacy of this ban.

Some students welcomed the ban on computers, believing that the universities did this for their own good. A student majoring in Posts and Telecommunication Engineering at Wuhan Institute of Technology, Li, said that the university's decision would help freshmen to improve their self-control but he felt that senior classmen were not likely to immerse themselves in online games.
Actually, the  "ban"  has not achieved satisfactory results. Research indicates that most who surf the Internet or play games in the university computer rooms or net bars around the universities are freshmen. According to a poll of 15 university students, after they finished the first year most bought computers and began to spend a long time playing games. Twelve of the fifteen have failed exams at least once and nine of them claimed that they bought computers specifically to play games. They also said that a large number of boys are obsessed with the Internet.   
The university ban on computers is primarily directed at freshmen. After they start their second year, as the students remarked, "We're no longer regulated by the university." The first year ban and the subsequent three-year no-interference policy have aroused many people's doubts about its effectiveness.

Some experts deem that computers are not ogres. It is quite normal for university students to use computers but they should use them properly. Playing games on the computers can help to keep one's mind sharp and it is also a very good way to communicate.

Internet addiction expert Tao Hongkai says that the key to resolve Internet addition is to educate and instruct students. The effect of a one-year ban is very limiting.  

(China.org.cn by Zhang Ming'ai, October 11, 2007)

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