If you are happier in the virtual world rather than in the real one, if you feel frustrated or at a loss when you can't access the Net, and if your cyber life intrudes on your work, study or personal relationships, beware: You are an Internet addict.
According to a major survey released yesterday, more than 13 percent of Chinese youths and young adults are addicted to the Internet. The poll, however, did not give the number of addicts.
At the end of July, the number of Chinese Web-surfers was 103 million, including 15.8 percent under the age of 18, according to the China Internet Network Information Center.
The latest survey, conducted by the China Youth Association for Network Development (CYAND), interviewed people aged 13-35 in 30 major Chinese cities 26 provincial capitals and the four municipalities.
CYAND is a group associated with the Communist Youth League of China, and promotes healthy Internet usage among the young.
About 22,500 valid replies were collected from schools, Internet cafes or through the Internet since August, making the survey the biggest of its kind in the country.
The survey shows 17 percent of male Internet users are addicts, compared with 10 percent for females.
Most addicts are aged 13-17, and they are either junior high school or vocational school students, or the jobless. For example, 23.2 pecent of junior high school students are considered Internet addicts. Government employees, on the other hand, are the least addicted, accounting for only 9 percent of their group.
About 42 percent of addicts are attracted to online games while the figure for non-addicts is only 24 percent.
Only 35 percent of addicts use the Net to get information, while the figure is 52 percent for non-addicts.
Beijing high school student Xiao Lin is a typical addict, according to criteria devised by CYAND.
He stopped going to classes to play Internet games at home for more than 10 hours each day, and even refused to communicate with his parents.
The games he liked to play: a huge monster chopping its enemy to death and sucking its blood, according to his mother. But the boy thought "it is cool," his mother was quoted as saying.
Eventually, after much persuasion from CYAND and his parents, Xiao Lin is back in school.
Tao Hongkai, a professor at Huazhong Normal University, said many parents feel helpless when dealing with Internet-addicted children. "They even go down on their knees to beg for help," he told a press briefing yesterday.
Tao said up to 70 pe cent of Internet games available to Chinese youngsters contain unhealthy content.
(China Daily November 23, 2005)