According to Reuters, mainland China has officially opened its “first halfway house
for Internet addicts.” The shelter offers counselling,
books, and — get this — computer use, as part of its program. Accordingly, up to four minors can take advantage of the program for any given one-night stay. The shelter hopes to “help bridge gaps between children and parents.”
“None of the teenagers are forced to come here,” explains Wang Hui, the house’s chief social worker.
“We wander around in nearby Internet bars at night and bring them to the halfway house if the teen agrees.”
Like practically everywhere, online gaming has exploded in China recently with around 14 million participants.
As a result of the young following, China has issued extensive regulations designed to curb excessive game playing in Internet cafes. This includes heavily fining owners that admit minors (if this has been carried out in reality, not so clear).
The Shanghai shelter, closely resembling one already in operation in Hong Kong, admitted its first three boys on Monday, including a 17-year-old named Chen “fed up with the depressive atmosphere” of his family.
Apparently the boy went home after discussing his issues with a psychologist for four hours followed by social workers visiting his family to encourage proper parent-child communications.
Opening of the new shelter was preceded by a much talked about incident in May. Parents of a 13-year-old boy who killed himself after playing a computer game for 36 hours sued the game’s Chinese distributor.