Shanghai's first government-sponsored treatment camp for young Internet addicts found itself in a dilemma yesterday - plenty of eager parents but not very many eager children.
By the deadline for applications yesterday, only 24 youngsters whose lives had been affected by the overuse of the Internet had signed up for the "Sunshine on the e-Road" program.
The Shanghai Sunshine Community Youth Affairs Center, the program's organizer had expected at least 40 students.
"The biggest problem is that parents are eager to have Internet addicted children treated but children themselves are strongly against it," said Zhu Hong, the center's publicity official.
Zhu said that over the past two weeks the center had been contacted by about 150 parents who wanted to send their children to the 10-day closed camp.
But the camps needed the cooperation of both the parents and the youngsters - anyone who was forced to attend would not be suitable for the course, center officials said.
"We will stick to our schedule and open the camp on time no matter how few come," Zhu added.
The closed camp, which will begin this Friday and run till August 26, will give Internet addicts aged between 14 and 22 psychological counseling and behavioral training at suburban Qingpu District.
The government will subsidize the camp with 6,000 yuan (US$792) per applicant and parents will pay 800 yuan for food and accommodation.
Guo Tiejun, a qualified counselor and the program's creator, said that they expected the applicants to have difficulties.
"This is different from ordinary physical sickness - Internet addicts usually won't be aware of their problems. Instead all they feel in the cyber world is happiness," Guo explained.
"Although most parents are extremely anxious about their children's low quality of life, the cure is more concerned with one's attitude towards life," he said.
Counselors said that they were now working on a new technique that would change the attitudes of addicted youngsters and make them willing to accept treatment.
(Shanghai Daily August 15, 2007)