China vows to stop electroshock therapy for internet addicts

Written by Dr. Andrew Doan & Brooke Strickland on .

Internet addiction has become a very real epidemic, especially overseas in countries like China. While video games or online gaming oftentimes start out as a fun way to kill time or to enhance education, for some people, gaming can take over all parts of their life. It becomes an all-consuming force that they simply cannot stop thinking about. Relationships begin to be neglected, work performance suffers, grades drop, and soon there is a huge problem that needs to be addressed. 

One way that Internet addiction is being addressed in China is through an Addiction Treatment Center. Most of the individuals that are at the center are teenagers and in addition to having their Internet access taken away, many of them were treated with electroshock therapy in order to help detox. For many parents, the center has been a last resort, but they send them there because they simply have no idea how else to help their children get over their endless use of games online. Now, the government is trying to crack down on the abuse that happened at the Center with a drafted law that will help eliminate physical punishments at the camps. Reports show that many of the teenagers that leave the camp have left with severe psychological damage. In fact, recent scientific research shows that the best treatments for technology addiction is usually through individual and group cognitive behavioral therapy sessions, which involve parents and spouses. Sometimes, medication can help if the addiction is also accompanied with depression or other mood/anxiety disorders. (1) 


So how do we avoid treatment altogether? By setting limits from a very young age.  If you have concerns that your child or teenager is showing signs of digital addiction, look at them as a whole. How are they functioning at home and at school? How are their relationships with friends and family? How are they communicating? Look at their overall wellbeing and take a close look at how gaming or online overuse is affecting their life. 


Next, communicate your goals with them. Explain to your children why you want them to succeed and share examples as to how their digital use is getting in the way of that success. Be specific about what the new guidelines are and what consequences there will be if they do not adhere to the new rules. Then, start weaning them off of their device slowly. Restrict access a little bit at a time so they don’t feel like you’re cutting them off drastically. Causing them to go cold turkey could trigger anger, resentment, and anxiety for those that have a true gaming addiction. 


And last, be empowered by your choice to reduce the use of technology in your home. You are making the best choice for your loved ones by limiting screen time. It allows your child’s creativity to flourish and it fosters face to face interactions. Video game and technology addiction is very real and can be devastating if it’s not addressed. 


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  1. Ives, Mike. “Electroshock Therapy for Internet Addicts? China Vows to End It.” January 13, 2017. New York Times. Accessed online January 25, 2017.