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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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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.

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