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Web Junkie (2013)

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The Chinese government is the first to classify internet addiction as a clinical disorder. 'Web Junkie' identifies internet addiction and focuses on the treatment used in Chinese ... See full summary »

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The Chinese government is the first to classify internet addiction as a clinical disorder. 'Web Junkie' identifies internet addiction and focuses on the treatment used in Chinese rehabilitation centres. The film delves into a Beijing treatment centre and explores the cases of three adolescents from the day they arrive at the treatment centre through the three-month period of being held at the centre, and then their return to their homes. The film follows both the underlying issues related to the disorders, as well as the manner and treatment the patients receive. Professor Tao Ran established the world's first internet addiction clinic, and he promises to cure children of so-called internet addiction, which has grown into one of China's most feared public health hazards. The program admits children between the ages of 13 and 18 years; they are forced to undergo military-inspired physical training and comply with monitored sleep and food standards. Throughout their stay at the clinic, ... Written by Anonymous

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China is the first country to label Internet addiction a clinical disorder. Web Junkie exposes a Beijing rehab center where Chinese teenagers are being "deprogrammed".

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15 March 2014 (USA)  »

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Caught in the Net  »

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One-note Documentary About a Frightening Social Phenomenon
22 September 2014 | by (London) – See all my reviews

In China internet addiction has apparently got so out of control that the government have set up a special clinic to deal with it. Run on military lines, the clinic has all the appearance of a boot camp, with the inmates dressed in army uniform, spending their days doing drills and submitting themselves to the will of a sadistic sergeant. In between they receive counseling and medication, as well as frequent meetings between themselves and their parents.

Hilla Medalia and Shosh Shlam's documentary paints a frightening picture of the extent to which some teenagers are addicted to war- games, spending several hours, if not days at the computer, and even wearing diapers rather than going to the bathroom, for fear that they will not improve their scores. For them, the virtual world seems superior to the 'real' world, insofar that it offers them more excitement and thrills. Despite the treatment meted out in the boot camp, many of the teenagers remain convinced that they can easily be cured without recourse to such extreme methods.

On the other hand, WEB JUNKIE does prompt speculation about whether the filmmakers are trying to portray contemporary China as an authoritarian society, despite its moves towards capitalism. It seems that old-established values are slow to change. If this is the case, then the film could be regarded as an orientalist piece, confirming the superiority of western democratic values to those practiced in communist China. The old Cold War binary has been reinvented, proving, perhaps, that it is not only the Chinese who are reluctant to change and embraces new globalized values.


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