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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Ran Tao ...
Himself - Addiction Specialist; Director of Daxing camp, Beijing Military Hospital (as Professor Tao Ran)

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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 Ran Tao 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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January 2014 (USA)  »

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Caught in the Net  »

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Unidentified student: [on the question of whether a computer is a tool or a toy] Chairman Tao. If we say it's "a toy," we won't be able to leave the Center?
[laughter]
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The internet is an addition just like drugs?!
24 November 2014 | by (Bradenton, Florida) – See all my reviews

"Web Junkie" is a Chinese documentary. While I watch a lot of Chinese films, it's the first documentary from this country I have seen and I was surprised just how much I enjoyed watching it--especially since I really expected to hate it. After all, when I read that it was about internet addiction in-patient programs, I thought this was utterly ridiculous. I just couldn't see the internet as being comparable to alcohol or heroin. But, the film surprised me and I think many parents would benefit from watching it.

The film is set in a military bootcamp-style facility for teens 13-18 that also provides psychotherapy for the child as well as the family. What really surprised me, however, is that there are currently about 400 of them in China!! Apparently, economic success and opening up their culture has brought about some problems--and kids who drop out of school and spend practically all their time in internet cafés is on the rise. Each resident stays about 90 days and the film crew are allowed access to both the residents and staff--and even some of the family psychotherapy sessions.

As I said already, at first I thought this all was overblown. After all, it's normal for teens to love the internet and putting them into an in-patient program sounds ridiculous--and I felt very uncomfortable when I saw them medicating these patients. However, my mind slowly changed as I watched "Web Junkie". These kids almost all saw that they had no problem...even though some of them admitted to doing some pretty insane things in order to play online games. Many said they catnapped here and there but would not leave the terminal for hours or even days at a time and one even talked about using adult diapers so that he didn't need to leave Warcraft! Plus, with all the families you see in the film, the kids' relationships with their parents are practically nonexistent...which was also true with how they interact with everyone else around them. Many of them were incredibly loud, angry and violent when they found themselves in the program--much like you'd expect from someone coming off drugs! But to me the ultimate example of the problem was when a group of the kids escaped. They were easily caught, however, as they were all down the road in the nearest internet café!

Although the film is occasionally slow and possibly might have been a bit better had it been shortened a bit here and there, the bottom line is that it is compelling and hard to stop watching. Because of this, and because the film simply allows the participants to talk without invasive narration, it's well worth your time.


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