Thursday, September 3, 2015

Chinese Get Serious With Their Net Addicts - Putting Them IN Boot Camps

Chinese web video gamer addict undergoes some  mild electro shocks as he receives aversive therapy for his addiction.

What do you do with a hard core internet addict in China? Well, if you're the parent you send him to a boot camp for net addicts!A boot camp is definitely not the place you want to be if you're any kind of a net junkie or "app ape" who can't seem to make the break with the bright, shiny screen and the moving images or texts. But it may be the ultimate solution for those so far gone to their addictions they forgot what real life looks like.

For the Chinese, screen addiction of any type is now classified as a clinical disorder and they've taken serious measures to break their young addicts of their screen dependence - whether it's to their smart phone, or laptop via some gaming app. At Daxing Boot Camp in Beijing, one of 400 rehab centers created to treat net addicts, calisthenics, group therapy. some mild ECT and a complete lack of screens are all available to break dependence and they've been successful. The young junkies can usually return home after a stint of 3-4 months.  They manage to recover their lives in the process and even manage to go out to dinner with friends without reaching for a smart phone to text message.

The U.S., alas, still hasn't gone that far - so the number of web addicts has multiplied and it's now reached the point it's posing a definite risk to public safety. As reported two nights ago on the news, the number of motor deaths has increased by 14,000 over the previous year and fully a fourth of these have been due to some manner of driver device distraction - either using a cell phone or texting.

Still, the U.S. is considering adding "internet gaming disorder" to the Diagnostic and Statistics Manual of Mental Disorders.  Why the delay? Because too many namby pambies are arguing that it "needs more study" and many have expressed the fear teens and others might be subjected to the "brutal methods in China". Please! Cry me a river already! These net-bound punks need to be put through a rigorous therapy and treatment plan - maybe even including some ECT (mild of course) to break them of their dependence.

To me, a kid or even adult has to be able to stay at least five hours continuously from a screen else he or she is a damned addict. They then ought to be able to enjoy the same rehab formula as those Chinese junkies.

Denver child psychiatrist Susan Lurie - quoted in a Denver Post piece (July 19, p. 2E) laughs at the notion of needing more study. Why more study, she asks, when we already know it's a real thing?

Lurie avers having seen many kids "who have other issues" but then get drawn into video games and it all goes downhill from that point. She points out (ibid.):

"There is something about the games and the way they're structured that is very addicting. It becomes like a drug for the kids. It's the same pathways in the brain as other addictions"

Here, the slot machines omnipresent in Vegas come to mind, as at Caesar's Palace:

The harmonics of the combined machine sounds, the flashing lights, all contribute to enticing one to play them - and once one does - it's extremely difficult to part ways.

A win here and there, especially a big cash out and you're hooked. Unless you can find the will power to walk away with your winnings. But that's damned difficult.

The point is that the attraction and addiction is in many ways similar to the video games hooking youngsters online.

Lurie's problem is that so many people are now "hooked on technology", and so embedded in it, that it's "impossible to have a conversation" and certainly one that challenges their use of it.

All this is disturbing given that too much staring at screens  - as opposed to say, reading a book, a real bound book - is bad for human brains, bad for kids' bones, fosters sleep deprivation and generally has a negative effect on social skills. Thus, when a group goes out for a dinner, say, and we behold this;

We can only deplore the extent to which technology has undermined face to face human communications. And the form of social isolation scene is like a small scale example of what's happening nationally with digital media.

Some therapists actually suspect the visual imagery acts as a substitute for real relationships. According to a recent article in the American Journal of Drug and Alcohol Abuse, when a habit becomes an obligation then it's an addiction.  This ties together a spectrum of behavioral addictions including: gambling, overeating, television compulsion and internet addiction.

How to test if a kid is internet or screen addicted? Take all his pet screens (smart phones, Ipads, laptops etc.) away for a day and observe what happens. If the kid pitches a fit, screams bloody murder, kicks holes in the walls, then that kid needs to be rushed into some kind of treatment - or a Chinese boot camp - because s/he's addicted.

Some parents are convinced they can "police" kids and their consumption but they're misguided. That only works until kids are a certain age, then they will simply find time intervals when the parents can't police or intervene.

One thing for sure, we have ushered in a technology monster and we had better learn soon how to control it, for the kids' sake.

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