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Real-life 'Call of Duty' camps recruit Chinese internet-addicted teens (PHOTOS)

Published time: July 01, 2014 17:12
Students receive a group punishment during a military-style close-order drill class at the Qide Education Center in Beijing February 19, 2014 (Reuters / Kim Kyung-Hoon)

Students receive a group punishment during a military-style close-order drill class at the Qide Education Center in Beijing February 19, 2014 (Reuters / Kim Kyung-Hoon)

Military style boot-camps are flourishing in China in order to break teenagers of their internet addiction. Some 250 camps are now functioning in the country alone – and the idea may spread.

“My parents wanted me to study at home all day, and I was not allowed to play outside,” one teenager, who gave only his surname, Wang, told Reuters. He said that resultantly he turned to the Internet to escape the competitive societal pressures.

“As I became addicted to the game, my school grades tumbled. But I gained another feeling of achievement by advancing to the next level in the game,” Wang said.

He admitted to once playing for more than three days in a row during which he slept for only one hour.

His problems resulted in his eventual admission to the Qide Education Center in Beijing.

Reuters / Kim Kyung-Hoon

Some 70 percent of the 110 children at the institution are being treated for problems instigated by Internet overuse. Overwhelmingly, internet overuse involves immersion in online games.

An official at the center told Reuters that the children typically arrive in a poor physical state. “Their obsession with the Internet has harmed their health and they end up losing their ability to participate in a normal life,” said Xing Liming.

“Education and living in a military environment makes them more disciplined and restores their ability to live a normal life,” Xing added. Classes also involve things such as music study.

The growing trend was highlighted in two films which were screened at the Sundance Film Festival earlier this year.

Films included “Web Junkies” by filmmakers Shosh Shlam and Hilla Medalia, which investigated what happened in four months in Beijing’s Daxing Camp. Parents paid some 10,000 yaun ($1,600) for their kids to stay there – twice the average Beijing monthly salary.

An instructor who is an ex-soldier talks to female students in their dormitory at the Qide Education Center in Beijing June 10, 2014 (Reuters / Kim Kyung-Hoon)

The country was the first to deem internet addiction a clinical disorder.

However, in In August 2013, Japan also declared that it would likely introduce “internet fasting camps” to deal with its internet-addicted children. Akifumi Sekine, an Education Ministry spokesperson, told the Daily Telegraph that he estimated the problem affected “around 518,000 children at middle and high schools across Japan.”

There has been some criticism of the camps; an illegally-administrated facility in rural Nanning, south China, was accused of beating to death 15-year-old Deng Sanshan, who was being treated for video game and Internet addiction. He died less than 24 hours after arriving at the camp.

Qihang Salvation has since been shut down, the New York Post reported in January.

A female teacher and an instructor who is an ex-soldier, escort a girl in a car as they take her to the Qide Education Center at the request of her parents, in Beijing May 22, 2014 (Reuters / Kim Kyung-Hoon)

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