News of the WeekScience in Society

China Reins in Wilder Impulses in Treatment of ‘Internet Addiction’

Science  26 Jun 2009:
Vol. 324, Issue 5935, pp. 1630-1631
DOI: 10.1126/science.324_1630

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Summary

No one doubts that logging long hours on the Internet can erode quality of life and on occasion can lead to ruinous consequences. In China alone, it's estimated that 5 million of the country's 300 million Internet users are "Internet addicts." Adolescents are especially vulnerable. But there is no meeting of the minds on whether Internet addiction is a genuine disorder. An American Psychiatric Association panel is now weighing whether to include Internet addiction in the fifth edition of the field's practices bible, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, planned for release in 2012. In China, the official view appears to be that Internet addiction is a genuine disorder, but attitudes are shifting about how aggressively it should be treated.