Electronic Heroin: China’s Web Junkies

Web Junkie

China is one of the first countries in the world to label overuse of the Internet a clinical condition. To combat what authorities deem the greatest social crisis for youth today, the Chinese government has created treatment facilities to detox and cure teenagers of their addictions to online life.But what starts out as an already-fascinating look at ways that technology may be destroying the lives of Chinese youth quickly becomes something more.

As the unorthodox psychological sessions continue and the teenage boys begin to share with their parents the reasons why they feel more connected to disassociated voices in cyberspace than to their families, Web Junkie chronicles the results of a nation going through one of most drastic transformations in human history. In honest and wrenching ways that transcend national borders, this film is a thoughtful examination of a society in flux and a technology-addled generation on the precipice of an unknown future.



The essential feature of Internet gaming disorder is persistent and recurrent participation in computer gaming, typically group games, for many hours. These games involve competition between groups of players (often in different global regions, so that duration of play is encouraged by the time-zone independence) participating in complex structured activities that include a significant aspect of social interactions during play. Team aspects appear to be a key motivation. Attempts to direct the individual toward schoolwork or interpersonal activities are strongly resisted. Thus personal, family, or vocational pursuits are neglected. When individuals are asked, the major reason given for using the computer are more likely to be "avoiding boredom" rather than communicating or searching for information.

The description of criteria related to this condition is adapted from a study in China. Until the optimal criteria and threshold for diagnosis are determined empirically, conservative definitions ought to be used, such that diagnoses are considered for endorsement of five or more of nine criteria. —American Psychiatric Association, DSM 5


Fang-ru, Y., & Wei, H. (2005).
The effect of integrated psychosocial intervention on 52 adolescents
with Internet addiction disorder.
Chinese Journal of Clinical Psychology, 13, 343–345.



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