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August 26, 2009

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40 hours a week eyed as Internet addict threshold

PEOPLE who spend more than 40 hours online each week will be considered Internet addicts under China's new treatment standards for an affliction that's estimated to be affecting the lives of millions of the country's teenagers.

The draft definition of online addiction was based on research into the standards used by foreign countries and has also been influenced by China's experience with the problem, Gao Xueping, a member of the expert panel working on the new treatment standard, told China's media.

The panel, authorized by the Ministry of Health, is working on guidelines designed to treat people who are addicted to online games, the biggest group of Internet addicts, Gao said. The standards are expected to be released by the end of this year.

The revision of the treatment standard has aroused public attention following media reports that some children were fatally beaten in unlicensed therapy centers for online addiction.

Deng Senshan, a 15-year-old boy, was beaten to death on August 2, only 12 hours after being sent to the Qihang Salvation Training Camp in Nanning, capital of Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, to cure his Internet addiction.

A similar clinic in east China's Shandong Province also gained notoriety when it gave electric shocks to teenagers whose parents had admitted them against their will.

China now has an estimated 107 million juvenile Internet users and 13 million of them are considered addicts.


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