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China could become first nation to make Internet addiction a medical disorder

China is expected to become the first country in the world to officially classify internet addiction as a mental disorder.  Chinese government officials would be required to register the term with the World Health Organization, which has seen an increased interest in internet- and game-related addiction.

Around 253 million of China's 1.2 billion population use the internet, with the number expected to grow as remote parts of the country build necessary infrastructure to support the internet.

Dr. Tao Ran studied at least 3,000 patients over a four-year period to help him classify internet addiction, which will be a condition similar to alcoholism or compulsive gambling.  

A person who spends at least 6.13 hours online each day can be considered an addict.  InterActiveCorp research indicates 42 percent of young internet users feel they are addicted to the internet, while only 18 percent of American youth feel they are addicted.

Around 50 percent of internet users in China are between the ages of 18 and 30.

Due to the exploding popularity of online video games, the government has urged game makers to create safeguards to better protect gamers.

"We took symptoms that appeared at the same time in more than 50 percent of patients and then we noted how frequently these same symptoms were repeated," he told the Times Online.  "China finds itself at the forefront of this research because we were among the earliest to set up clinics ... we had a sufficient sample of patients so that we could carry out proper scientific analysis.

Special psychiatric units could be created in Chinese hospitals to help people who are said to be internet addicts.

Even if internet addiction does not become an official disorder, psychologists are expected to continue researching possible addicts, and how to treat it.

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What a load...
By MrBlastman on 11/12/2008 10:20:58 AM , Rating: 5
Of Commu-Socialistic hogwash. I love how the government there feels it knows what is "best" for its citizens and society when it comes to personal time or social activities. I am glad that I live in the United States and we don't have to put up with this here (yet).

How do they justify their rationale behind Internet addiction when:

a. Many people used to spend hours a day reading the paper
b. Many people sit on their tails and watch fake friends on television for hours a day
c. Some people like to constantly talk on the phone with people they know
d. Some people like to spend hours a day in the gym
e. Some people like to enroll their kids in every sport known to man and bus them around everywhere
f. Some people like to sit around and think for hours at a time

Are they going to outlaw all of the above as well? Why don't they go the extra mile and delve into completely, full-scale social engineering while they are at it? After all, they are the all loving, all caring government. They are your keeper, your protector, your leader. They really must know what is best for you, right?

I would probably liken "Internet Addiction" as being similar to those who read the paper. I'm one of them - I get the majority of my news from the Internet. According to China though, I would be classified as addicted due to the amount of time I spend online - even if it is staying current with events in the world and various pieces of news which is crucial for my profession. So if I read the paper equally, that would be unhealthy too?

I feel bad for the people in China. At the same time, they do nothing to stop it so perhaps I should not feel bad at all.

RE: What a load...
By austinag on 11/12/2008 10:30:29 AM , Rating: 2
For the most part I agree. I used to spend a lot more time reading the newspaper, now I get my news online. It's just another form of media.
If you want a true internet addiction, you need Stumble Upon.

RE: What a load...
By jimpaka on 11/12/2008 12:18:06 PM , Rating: 3
For anyone who thinks the concept of an internet addiction is bullshit, you're right, it is. This is a perfect example of a government brainwashing its citizens by casting a shadow over some kind of human activity (that does little harm to others) because of its own agenda. It's in China's best interests to keep the people ignorant.

The notion of human 'addiction' has been so grossly beaten to death in western culture alone, that we as a society fear anything that the authorities label an 'addiction' as if it were a disease! Just look at drug issues in the states. Who ever talks about caffeine addiction? Of course they don't, because it's a legal drug that arguably keeps the working class working. Cigarette addiction? Sure plenty of people are trying to quit, but it's not an addiction or a disease, it's just a habit that some consider bad. As soon as you mention marijuana, LSD, MDMA, the general reaction is one of fear because apparrantly these substances lead very quickly to a disease called addiction. It's pathetic. Government shouldn't exist to lead a culture but to organise and help the community that elected it.

RE: What a load...
By Murloc on 11/12/2008 1:29:15 PM , Rating: 2
Chinese world of warcraft farmers and powerlevelers? aren't they addicted?
Some have bots, but I spoke with a chinese farmer once, and he really was addicted.

RE: What a load...
By nosfe on 11/12/2008 1:31:57 PM , Rating: 2
its not addiction for them, its a job, i know, the difference is subtle

RE: What a load...
By Samus on 11/12/2008 7:39:16 PM , Rating: 4
I think any form of web surfing time should be excluded entirely from being considered an addiction. As said, it's just another form of media.

However, spending 10+ hours a day on WoW, CS or Evercrack is another story...

RE: What a load...
By Regs on 11/14/2008 8:29:31 AM , Rating: 3
Soon, I hope, the noble people of China will stand up and over-throw their commi government. China has 1.9 trillion dollars on reserve with people living in shacks and 4 x4 boxes. Most of their country outside of metropolitan areas don't even have running water.

Just one of the reasons why the global economy is sinking. Money hogs and corrupted governments; pleaces we're spending our money on with no return investment.

RE: What a load...
By nosfe on 11/12/2008 10:31:31 AM , Rating: 2
i thought its already happening in the US, video game censoring?

RE: What a load...
By mdogs444 on 11/12/08, Rating: 0
RE: What a load...
By Staples on 11/12/2008 12:38:04 PM , Rating: 2

Why is your post so angry? They are not going to throw you into jail if you are an internet addict (as it sounds like you are).

RE: What a load...
By someguy123 on 11/12/2008 3:44:04 PM , Rating: 2
seriously. While i agree with some of the OP's post, such as TV being just as if not more addictive and detrimental, the chinese aren't talking about going and putting these people into insane asylums. they're just creating locations for people with this "addiction" to get help. OP definitely just read the title and posted without checking the article to see how "addicts" would be affected.

many of the things you list aren't really harmful to your life, but if they reach the point where they ARE then yes i'd consider that an addiction. many people are definitely addicted to using the internet as it supplies them with pretty much everything you could want except direct nourishment, and nowadays with places like safeway shipping to your house you can stay on the internet without ever leaving except to answer the door.

RE: What a load...
By chick0n on 11/12/08, Rating: 0
RE: What a load...
By afkrotch on 11/12/2008 3:55:50 PM , Rating: 2
If you were to go to China, Russia, N.Korea, Vietnam, Laos, Cuba, etc can you say they are prospering? Can you say there is a truly classless state?

I don't have to go to these countries to see there is a huge disparity.

How about the forced migration of Chinese? As farm machinery advances, less and less farmers are needed. Not to mention, the importation of goods from other countries. So what does Chinese government do? Forces some of them to move into urban cities. Leaving them unemployed. There's no if's, and's, or but's. The Chinese ppl are not allowed to move from city to city that easily.

Also you have to be there to experience it, how so? Am I treated like an Iraqi if I visit Iraqi? Am I treated like a Nigerian if I visit Nigeria? Am I treated like an Australian if I visit Australia? Of course not, so how the hell do you think I'm going to understand anything about Communism if I visit these countries, if I'm not treated equally? When visiting different countries, you have well padded pockets to afford your stay, scenic tours, and so on. Sitting in Beijing or Moscow in a 5 Star hotel and visiting all the tourist locations is hardly experiencing Communism.

RE: What a load...
By eion on 11/13/2008 12:39:12 AM , Rating: 4
If you were to go to China... can you say they are prospering?

Absolutely. By way of background, I work in China for a Chinese law firm, the law being an area relatively tightly controlled by the government (in any country, not just here).

So what does Chinese government do? Forces some of them to move into urban cities.

What you describe is the exact opposite of Chinese government policy (real and stated).

The Chinese ppl are not allowed to move from city to city that easily.

Moving from city to city has not been a problem for quite some time; the problem was moving from the countryside to a city. After one particularly outrageous case, back in 2003 as I recall, a lot of the controls have been rolled back.

Also you have to be there to experience it, how so?

Not looking Chinese, this is of course a problem for me. The other 'problem' is that people in China are naturally welcoming of foreigners, and because of that and other reasons, foreigners in China seem in most respects to be treated relatively better than locals, regardless of wealth. That said, I have travelled quite extensively in China with my local friends and colleagues.

The distinction between communism and the Chinese policy of "socialism with Chinese characteristics" is I think a real one, but in any event at street level the country is basically capitalist in my opinion. It certainly is not communist. I would say the China is "classless" in the same way as America is, with social divisions according to wealth instead.

I'm no apologist for the Chinese government, and I'm certainly no communist - I actually vote Libertarian. Just calling it how I see it. I've never been to the other countries you mention though, so I cannot comment on them.

RE: What a load...
By just4U on 11/13/2008 4:54:09 AM , Rating: 2
I found your post here to be very informative. Thumbs up!

RE: What a load...
By MrBlastman on 11/12/2008 4:41:33 PM , Rating: 2
On the opposite side, why don't you experience Capitalism in all its glory before you defend Socialism and Communism?

You really don't have to if you read about what is really going on and how things are structured - and know people that live in these various countries or are from them. It gives you a firsthand account.

I can confidently say that I have more freedom in the USA than I would if I lived in a European nation or Russia/China/Japan/Iran etc. Not even the slightest inclination of be being wrong in the back of my mind.

Why? The number of people wanting to move here has not dropped, it has only increased. That must mean something, right?

RE: What a load...
By lagomorpha on 11/12/2008 5:13:05 PM , Rating: 2
To be fair the bars around here (good old 'merica) are required to close at a certain time of night while the bars in Russia at the height of communism were allowed to stay open 24 hours. Just because we believe we have more freedoms on average than some other nations doesn't mean we should be content only with the freedoms we have.

RE: What a load...
By Reclaimer77 on 11/12/2008 6:21:02 PM , Rating: 2
I think the differences in when bars close between the US and USSR is a kind of.. silly example of freedoms.

Besides, Russia encouraged alcoholism. Big time. A drunk slumbering mass of downtrodden people are far easier to control.

RE: What a load...
By omnicronx on 11/12/2008 6:46:22 PM , Rating: 2
That was productive...

RE: What a load...
By Subzero0000 on 11/12/2008 8:48:19 PM , Rating: 2
All I see is ignorant and hatre in your comments.
You only getting these information from what? The media?

I'm from Hong Kong and it has been mixed influence by the British and China.
Sure I don't prefer China to take over my city, but when you actually experience it, it is actually not all that "Evil".

So when I watched "Bowling in columbine", "Sicko", "Zeitgeist", etc... Should I believe all it's saying?
If I actually believe all of that, I'll say USA is even worst than other countries.

You have to see it in your own eyes.
I'd suggest you to study overseas for at least a year, it's the best way to get close enough to experience the truth.

RE: What a load...
By chick0n on 11/13/2008 10:55:20 AM , Rating: 1
ROFL. I've been living in New York for more than a decade. and From time to time I do travel to China so oh yes I know how both works.

Its narrow minded morons like you who think Capitalism is the best thing since slice bread. US actually did a pretty good job into brainwashing citizens into believe that Capitalism is the one and only way to deal with things.

the US is so Capitalism that they just bail all the companies out. Market Freedom my ass.

RE: What a load...
By MrBlastman on 11/14/2008 9:31:20 AM , Rating: 2
Why don't you just leave if you don't like it here. We won't miss you. I promise. :P

RE: What a load...
By JDHack42 on 11/12/2008 3:56:24 PM , Rating: 5
So when the US started researching internet addiction in the mid 90's, those folks were sicko-pinko commies as well?

Funny story: My roommate did a 3 day bender of Ascheron's Call and missed this prof's class, he claimed internet addiction...

RE: What a load...
By just4U on 11/12/2008 10:28:37 PM , Rating: 2
I think it's all BS. To much of anything you might happen to really like is considered to be a addiction and detrimental. Is it really? Who knows. I'd much rather do the things I enjoy all the time over stuff I don't.. I think that's a given for all of us.

Does it matter? Sure. If your doing to much of something and it's effecting every other area of your life then you have a problem. Hmm, I guess work would fit that catagory for everyone out there to perhaps they should study that addiction.

<shrug> I take it with a grain of salt.

Thought Police More?
By kiwik on 11/12/2008 9:53:34 AM , Rating: 2
Seriously, why not have a policemen, a doctor and a "journalist" assigned for every household so the State can tell you what is good and what is not?

RE: Thought Police More?
By Parhel on 11/12/2008 10:09:53 AM , Rating: 2
I don't think it's quite that sinister, really. I'm in favor of this. Only once a disorder is defined can we begin to discuss how to treat it.

RE: Thought Police More?
By kiwik on 11/12/2008 10:36:02 AM , Rating: 1
I use my computer as my research station for schoolwork, I spend hours reading articles for my papers. Is this an addiction due to my line of studies or is it a "legit" form of addiction based on China's I-Know-Better-Than-You attitude?

RE: Thought Police More?
By Staples on 11/12/2008 12:41:24 PM , Rating: 2
Spending time reading responses on dailytech is hardly productive.

RE: Thought Police More?
By afkrotch on 11/12/2008 1:04:39 PM , Rating: 2
It is productive, if you are looking for symptons of internet addiction or even more insight.

Anyways, I'm on the net at least 8 hours a day (give or take a few days out of the year) for the past 6 or 7 years. Might be because my job revolves around computers.

RE: Thought Police More?
By kiwik on 11/12/2008 1:57:42 PM , Rating: 2
I see what you did there.

RE: Thought Police More?
By Subzero0000 on 11/12/2008 9:03:29 PM , Rating: 2
Come on, you are way ahead of yourself.

They are only classifying the disorder, and provide the treatment for it.

Some people do go online, not because they need to, but addicted to it (e.g. World of Warcraft).
And in this case, the government is not forcing you to do anything.

It's like psychotic illness. Just because the government has this classification doesn't mean they'd say you are CRAZY and force treatment on you.

By The0ne on 11/12/2008 10:45:49 AM , Rating: 4
I'm not sure how to describe some of you whom made earlier responses to this thread. The article states it "can" be an addiction. Surely some of you must think internet is an addiction to some people. These are users who think nothing but internet, wants to come home to internet, wants to spend their time on there every minuet, avoid routines such as brushing teeth, eating, pee-ing, etc.

These are real symptoms that have been reported on already. Whether or not the article addresses this who knows because it's very limited in it's scope. I can say I was addicted to internet back in the 300 baud modems days with the bbs and chats. All I did was that and I suffered greatly from it.

Please limit your comments of "I use the computer for research all day long, does that mean I'm a addict" comments for something that is more relevant to an addiction. Obviously if you use it for work and work only it's not an addiction, unless you do nothing but that 24/7 with not other life.

RE: baffled
By MrBlastman on 11/12/2008 11:15:21 AM , Rating: 2
While your definition may make more sense, China is employing a rigid standard:

"A person who spends at least 6.13 hours online each day can be considered an addict."

This leaves no room for people who use the computer at their jobs.

RE: baffled
By Parhel on 11/12/2008 11:36:58 AM , Rating: 2
I'll admit that, even for a first attempt, it's not a very good definition. It's only saving grace is that it qualifies itself with the word can.

If someone spends 6.13 hours per day, every day, of their free time using the Internet, I'd say that's probably too much. It needs an additional qualifier to subtract time spent using the Internet for actual work.

Another issue is that sometimes people go through periods of heavy use, and periods of non-use. For example, I rarely play games, but this last week I've spent more time than I care to admit playing Fallout 3. Am I an addict? No, because once I've finished the game I will go back to my normal routing. I guess the "every day" qualifier accounts for this, but I would hope that it's spelled out more thoroughly.

Who knows? We're just commenting on an news article. Maybe they've already taken all that into consideration and we're just getting a snippet.

RE: baffled
By rudy on 11/12/2008 2:21:32 PM , Rating: 2
Are you sure that is there rigid definition after translation and misinterpretation and finally what ever daily tech spin exists?

RE: baffled
By cyriene on 11/13/2008 7:08:35 AM , Rating: 2
I have read about this else where and they listed more criteria for the internet addiction than just being online 6 hours a day. The same critera used for other addictions.
I think most posters here just read this article and really missed the point about what is really going on.

By KnIgHtCoM on 11/12/2008 9:22:01 AM , Rating: 1
So if I'm on the interwebz 24/7, does that mean I have a problem?

RE: Hah!
By jadeskye on 11/12/2008 9:29:53 AM , Rating: 2
only if you're playing WoW/looking at pr0n 24/7 :p

RE: Hah!
By nosfe on 11/12/2008 9:35:17 AM , Rating: 2
and if you live in China

RE: Hah!
By noxipoo on 11/12/2008 12:46:51 PM , Rating: 2
thank god, i thought i was an addict till you added you have to live in china. back to wow and porn.

RE: Hah!
By amanojaku on 11/12/2008 11:10:05 AM , Rating: 2
Not if you're looking at porn.

To China's government...
By bkslopper on 11/12/2008 1:34:57 PM , Rating: 2
...independent thought is a disorder.

RE: To China's government...
By bpiermat on 11/12/2008 3:28:30 PM , Rating: 2
So if you piss off a government official, they can call you a internet addict and lock you away in the psychiatric unit. Hope we (USA) never get that bad.

RE: To China's government...
By FITCamaro on 11/12/2008 4:34:36 PM , Rating: 2
Wait 6 months. Then it'll be illegal to criticize the government without giving equal time to praising it. (Fairness Doctrine)

Addction = Like Something Too Much
By OPR8R on 11/12/2008 6:50:35 PM , Rating: 2
Give it a few more years and we're going to have to change the definition of "addiction".

There is no chemical in the Internet that causes people to become addicted to it. Those of us who spend too much time there may exhibit the same behavioral disorders that (drug) addicts do, but we're not addicted. If crack disappeared tomorrow, there would be a lot of sick crack addicts out there. If the Internet disappeared tomorrow (FSM forbid), we'd all be fine.

By cokbun on 11/12/2008 9:17:17 PM , Rating: 2
well there is a few case of gamers death in taiwan, s korea and others after some people played counter strike / ragnarok etc. non stop for a couple of days. maybe they should put like a reminder like in the beginning of a silent hill / resident evil game " Playing this game non stop will kill you " or something like that

My name is
By Frallan on 11/13/2008 4:55:50 AM , Rating: 2
Fredrik and im an Internet addict.



RE: My name is
By Subzero0000 on 11/13/2008 5:08:48 AM , Rating: 2
Hello Fredrik.

it's true, it's true.....
By marvdmartian on 11/12/2008 10:00:30 AM , Rating: 2
I'm a junkie with a monkey!!! ;)

let me guess
By Suntan on 11/12/2008 1:25:13 PM , Rating: 2
Let me guess, it will be easier to "help" its citizens that have an "internet addiction." Like people using the internet to talk about the government.

Kind of like how the Tibetans have a "freedom additiction."


By ggordonliddy on 11/12/2008 6:38:01 PM , Rating: 2
Your article heading is "China Makes Internet Addiction an Official Disorder". But then you go on to say that it COULD become an official disorder.

That is blatantly misleading and a poor excuse for journalism.

Ignorance and blindness prevails
By NubWobble on 11/12/2008 9:49:44 PM , Rating: 2
The only sane comment in this whole thread has been from Subzero0000. You all claim China is a dictatorial state when the great old US, with all its freedom has... the Patriot Act! Then anti-war demonstrators get arrested in the UK for demonstrating outside of parliament. An 80 year old man gets harrassed and claims to have been beaten up by the police for not stopping with his protests in London.

None of you have any idea what freedom is, that's why you're all claiming to have more freedom than China or any other country, while in fact you have less. I have met many intellectuals who have had to leave the US because those who oppose the government are being actively driven out of the country. One of these is a journalist whose news paper (a small local one) was forcibly shut down, and saw the editor and himself arrested, after he wrote an anti-Bush article.

But that's not what this article is about. This article is about state censorship, which the US also carries out on a mass scale. If no electronic censorship takes place then can someone please tell us why there is a large difference between many games sold in Europe and the US when it comes to gore and pornography? Also this addiction research was initiated in the US in the 90's (as has been stated already) but you people would rather look down on China than accept that it was your own countries who wanted to classify internet users as such. While China and many other countries gain freedom, regardless of how slow it may be, our Western world is hurtling fast towards fascist dictatorships, if they're not one already.

The world doesn't hate the 'West' for its freedom, because it has none. The world hates it for its ignorance.

Internet and Treatment
By Senju on 11/12/2008 11:16:27 PM , Rating: 2
They need to understand the difference of Internet usage and online gaming. Just because you use the Internet 4 to 6 hours a day should not mean you have a problem. My work requires me to be in touch.
Now, Online gaming is a different story. You could get issues when playing for a long time which may not be good if you do not exercise and take breaks. If you say Good Morning to your mother, do push ups while your downloading something, open up the window and take a nice breath of fresh air on a regular basis, I think you will have a great ONLINE and healthy experience. It is a "LIFE STYLE" and can work great if you take proper responsibility for your health. China needs to be careful to understand the difference between "LifeStyle" and "addiction".
The problem occurs when a user does not take care of them selfs with the "INTERNET LIFE STYLE".
Solution: I think a little bit of education of self control will do the trick. They should not blame the Internet and telling someone not to use the Internet is not the right treatment.

Total bull*@!$!
By Min Jia on 11/12/2008 11:50:23 PM , Rating: 2
You guys actually believe news stories like this?? LOL

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