No more shock treatment for Chinese web addicts

China has banned the use of electric shock treatment for internet addiction. How enlightened.

The Ministry of Health’s decision followed reports about Dr Yang Yongxin, a psychiatrist in Linyi in the country’s Shandong Province, using electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) on 3,000 teenagers in a bid to pry their fingers from their mice.

China has 300m internet users, the largest number in the world, and the government has become increasingly concerned that excessive internet use is not good for them. Internet addiction has been blamed for everything from lower academic performance to disrupted family life, especially among the young.

In a country where both the state and families still place considerable restrictions on what people can do, chatrooms, online gaming and social networking are looked on as providing dangerous levels of freedom and escape.

Last year the country’s doctors formally defined internet addicts. They were, it said, those who spend over six hours a day online, find difficulty socialising, concentrating or sleeping and have a desire to be online when they are offline. Others have said however that this definition is neither helpful nor precise - aware no doubt, that in places like Silicon Valley, such ‘vices’ are essential components of any and every CV.

Still, in capitalist China, hundreds of organisations have sprung up to treat the new epidemic. These offer everything from army training style boot camps to more conventional psychology and medicines to combat depression and anxiety.

Dr Yongxin claimed that his therapy, which he referred to as ‘brainwaking’, worked by applying a small current to the brain; adding that, while it may cause a little pain, it was entirely safe.  The treatment cost around £500 per month and the preferred term was ‘pulse therapy.’ Not ECT.

However, the ministry of health finally did the decent thing, pulling the plug on the good Dr Yongxin - perhaps having realised that the cure in this case might just have been worse than the disease.

In today's bulletin:

Biggest jump in unemployment since records began
Goldman in new bonus row as profits soar to $3.4bn
Sunshine puts fizz in Britvic sales - but melts Thorntons' hopes
Editor's blog: Goldman Sachs and moral revulsion
No more shock treatment for Chinese web addicts

Sign in to continue

Sign in

Trouble signing in?

Reset password: Click here


Call: 020 8267 8121



  • Up to 4 free articles a month
  • Free email bulletins

Register Now

Become a subscriber

From £66 a quarter

  • Full access to
  • Exclusive event discounts
  • Management Today's print magazine
  • Plus lots more, including our State of the Industry Report.

Choose a Package