Fourteen Internet-crazed youths were tired of the “monotonous work and intensive training” at a Chinese boot camp designed to cure them of their addiction. So the young men tied up a night supervisor at the Huai’an Internet Addiction Treatment Centre and made a break for it. Unfortunately, their great escape came to a sudden end when they couldn’t pay a taxi driver, who turned them in to the police. Then their unsympathetic parents marched them back to the boot camp. After all, the families had paid around $2,750 each for a six-month treatment.
There are an estimated 24 million Internet addicts in China, many obsessed with massive multi-player games and social networking. Desperate parents often resort to boot camps as a way to break their addiction. The treatments can be brutal. Last month, two instructors at a camp in southern China were sentenced to prison for beating a teen to death with wooden boards. At the Huai’an centre, military-style treatment starts at 5 a.m. and, after a day full of exercise, calligraphy and other mind-numbing courses, ends at 9:30 p.m. “We have to use military-style methods on these young people,” a proud official told the Global Times. “We need to teach them some discipline.”