Web Addiction Soars Among China's Youth, Survey Says

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The number of young Chinese addicted to the Internet leaped to 24 million last year, a survey showed, as state media and some Chinese parents fret over social ills said to be linked to the Web.

Online games are often seen as a main cause of Internet obsession among adolescents in China, and state media have blamed them for contributing to problems as wide-ranging as teen pregnancy and violent crime.

The number of Web-addicted youths was nearly double the figure from 2005, and accounted for one in seven young Internet users, the state-run newspaper China Daily said Wednesday, citing a survey by the China Youth Association for Network Development. Nearly half of the young people surveyed use the Web to play games, the report said.

The results "highlight the worrying situation of the ever-growing number of young Internet addicts," the report quoted an official with the youth association as saying.

Concern over Internet addiction has fueled a boom in treatment centers around the country where parents send their children for boot-camp-style rehabilitation. The issue became more controversial in China last year as reports emerged that one center was using shock treatment on its subjects. China later banned the treatment.

Reports also emerged last year of beatings at treatment camps, including one case where a boy was killed.

China says 384 million people in the country used the Web in the second half of last year, giving the country more Internet users than the U.S. has people.

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