Too Much of a Good Thing, Part II

chinainternetcafe.jpg 

As a follow up to some of the negative side effects of the Internet explosion in China I wrote about last year, here is a story that was posted to the CNN technology section yesterday:

China: 2 Million Teens Hooked on the Web

BEIJING, China (Reuters) — Chinese teenagers are getting addicted to the Internet and taking to crime at a younger age than in any other country, state media reported on Wednesday.

Of China’s 18.3 million teen Internet users, more than 2 million were addicts, with “good kids who impress their parents and teachers” the most vulnerable to the affliction, the China Daily said, citing a study by the Communist Youth League.

“Internet addicts in China are as many as 10 years younger than those in the West. They are more susceptible,” the daily quoted Gao Wenbin, a psychology researcher at the Chinese Academy of Sciences, a top government think tank, as saying.

One of the main reason that’s given in the article as to why so many young people become addicted is “a lack of diversions at schools”, which makes me wonder what “diversions” would be needed to help curb the Internet addiction problem. China definitely has some catching up to do when it comes to providing technology for teaching and learning in schools, but even once that happens, they’ll still need to develop ways to teach kids to use technology in meaningful, ethical, and safe ways. Not too much different from other parts of the world where the technology is readily available for learning…

Image credit: “Internet Cafe”. draq’s photostream:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/hendry/140068806/

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One response to “Too Much of a Good Thing, Part II

  1. Kids in China are getting addicted mainly because of money. Having a source of extra income is very attractive to these kids, especially today with the country experiencing massive social and economic changes due to it opening up to the whole world. And like kids anywhere, suddenly they too want their electronic toys, fashionable apparel, status symbol objects, among other things. Earning money to satisfy this new desire is a good thing in their eyes, especially if it means doing something they enjoy.

    And what they do is a real kicker, they earn playing online games. But not just any game, but a class of games called MMORPGs (Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Games). Kids create and play characters with the sole purpose of earning virtual money/gold, and acquiring extremely difficult to get virtual objects, which are then sold for real money. Often times, if the character becomes so powerful, the whole account could be sold to prospective buyers. These are usually folks from richer western countries who don’t have the time or patience to ‘play’ their games, and would rather buy them cheaply from chinese kids. Chinese kids in turn are more than happy to sell their wares for a huge payday. Both sides end up having a great deal.

    This brings us back to the original question, of what sort of diversions would be needed to make these kids become less addicted. Unfortunately there isn’t a straightforward answer. To get chinese kids off the net, they’d need an alternative source of readily available income to satisfy their unhealthy status-symbol spending habits (which is sadly a part of their culture). This is very hard to do considering busloads of rual villagers from inner China come to the city every single day to look for work.

    This problem isn’t as acute in the US or other western countries, mainly because kids there usually get their income from their parents. There’s not much of an incentive for them to spend all those hours compared to their chinese counterparts.

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