Web Junkie

Web Junkie is a documentary that spotlights a troubling social trend in modern China by visiting one of 400 rehab centers focused on treating the symptoms of Internet addiction.  “China is the first country to declare internet addiction as a clinical disorder, claiming it is the number one public health threat to its teenage population.”  Well, you have to give China credit for facing the problem of Web addiction head-on.  I am sure this problem is pervasive in many countries, but they just turn a blind eye to it.  In the USA, public service ads on TV encourage kids to “go out and play an hour a day”, something all kids did in the pre-internet generations without any encouragement needed.  Do you think web addiction is a mental disorder like the Chinese claim, as seen here, and is it somewhat similar to drug addiction?  At one point, seven of the boys escape through a barred window, but they go directly to an internet cafe! — where they are soon caught, again playing video games non-stop addictively!  Which proves the point of it being an addiction.  Rehab may be the only hope for many of these young people.  And the problem will surely grow, as everything is so net-based these days.  Having seen people close to me spend 10+ hours a day online gaming, I can tell you the addiction is very real.  Online gaming satisfies every need for a social recluse — interaction without having to be face to face, reward systems, and stunning virtual worlds.  But the diagnosis of “addiction” may be misleading or even wrong.  What a puritanical oppressive regime in China is quick to label as addiction could be more a result of China’s “one-child” rule, which tends to result in girl infanticide and one-boy families.  These lonely boys are part of a generation that has been called “little emperors” — sons who as the only child never had to get along or share.  That is why the solitary life of a gamer suits them perfectly, and why they throw tantrums when they are asked to consider others.  These kids have almost no social skills, and are lonely & depressed, yet the ‘treatment’ consists of military drills and isolation as punishment.  Wow… I feel for these kids.  I don’t see how it could help these kids to put them in a military institution that looks harsh and archaic at times.  But there appears to be no abuse that goes on.  And the parents get counseling along with the kids to understand the problem of this ‘addiction’.  As you watch you can see how sincere and genuine the whole process is shown to be in China.  It was actually pretty amazing seeing the teens, parents, and health-care workers have thought-provoking meet-ups and therapy sessions.  They want the parents to also live there and attend the same classes their kids do — innovative therapy.  You might deem this as another negative aspect of China, especially how militaristic it seems.  But honestly I thought there was something quite remarkable about it.  Weirdly, I wish my parents did the same for me as a teen.  For me too the internet really did become an obsession for various reasons.  I feel that I would be able to trust the health-care workers there more than I would here in the US.  Seems like everyone there does actually care a lot.  In comparison to parents sending uncontrollable kids to military schools in America, or to “Tough Love” camps for which parents pay $30,000 to have their kids beaten down mentally.  So I was expecting to see the same in China.  But they seem very caring.  Interesting documentary and unbiased in its view.  Deeply thought-provoking, especially for those like myself who suffer internet addiction themselves.  Definitely worth watching.  Didn’t have high expectations when starting this film, but I would say It’s top 5 for me.  A must watch!  Documentary 2013 NR 1hr 15m.


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