New cyber law to prevent shock therapy for Net addicts

By Liu Caiyu Source:Global Times Published: 2017/1/9 0:08:39

China's first draft regulation to protect minors' rights in cyberspace will bring an end to the controversial electroshock therapy to cure Internet addiction which has caused physical and psychological damage, experts said Sunday.

The Legislative Affairs Office of the State Council released the draft on Friday, and the public is invited to give comments through the office's website before February 6. 

According to the draft, no individuals or organizations are allowed to force or abuse juveniles in seeking to cure Internet addiction that will hurt their mental and physical health or infringe their legitimate rights. 

"Electroshock therapy, such as that used by the controversial Internet Addiction Treatment Center in Shandong Province will be banned if the draft is adopted," Song Yinghui, deputy director of law school in Beijing Normal University, told the Global Times on Sunday.

Electroconvulsive therapy is a legitimate medical technique for severe depression, but it has no role in addiction therapy, China Youth Daily reported in August. However, the Shandong center used it to "treat" more than 6,000 Internet addicts, mostly teenagers since 2006.

Song said that electroshock therapy has caused physical and psychological damage to the "patients," who are mostly juveniles.

The center in Linyi, Shandong, first came to public attention in 2009, after media reports claimed that teens were suffering from psychological trauma after treatment, the Nandu Daily reported.

The draft also stipulates that video games providers ban services for minors from midnight to 8 am, and restrict their continuous period and daily accumulated time on playing games.

Those providers are also responsible for taking technical measures to prevent minors from becoming addicted to video games, such as real-name identification registration and changing game rules which could lead to addiction, said the draft.

Specialized gaming accounts for minors are helpful to monitor teenagers' behavior online, said Song.

Though service providers shall take responsibility to protect juveniles' health, the main method to prevent Internet addiction should come from families' guidance and education, Zong Chunshan, director of the Beijing Youth Legal and Psychological Consultation Service Center, told the Global Times.

China had more than 710 million netizens by June 2016, of whom 23 percent are under 19 years old, according to the State Council.

Posted in: SOCIETY

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