Youth and Internet Addiction in China
By Trent Bax
Routledge – 2014 – 240 pages
Routledge – 2014 – 240 pages
A form of 'electronic opium' is how some people have characterised young people’s internet use in China. The problem of 'internet addiction' (wangyin) is seen by some parents as so severe that they have sought psychiatric help for their children. This book, which is based on extensive original research, including discussions with psychiatrists, parents and 'internet-addicted' young people, explores the conflicting attitudes which this issue reveals. It contrasts the views of young people who see internet use, especially gaming, as a welcome escape from the dehumanising pressures of contemporary Chinese life, with the approach of those such as their parents, who medicalise internet overuse and insist that working hard for good school grades is the correct way to progress. The author shows that these contrasting attitudes lead to battles which are often fierce and violent, and argues that the greater problem may in fact lie with parents and other authority figures, who misguidedly apply high pressure to enforce young people to conform to the empty values of a modern, dehumanised consumer-oriented society.
'The idea of Internet addiction haunts parents, teachers, and other adults, as well as the youth who feel overwhelmed by the appeal of the virtual world. Many refer to psychological instability, worsening grades at school, distancing of self from friends and family, and other signs as evidence of such addiction. … The author recognizes that some Chinese youth indeed demonstrate problematic behavioral patterns that make it difficult to lead what is considered to be a "normal" life. In order to deal with these concerns, Bax suggests that a new approach of "[seeking] to uncover the intra-, inter- and extra-personal factors underlining socially problematic Internet use" is necessary. This approach is applicable to other social concerns in the era of digital technology outside of China. The case study helps unearth solutions to common "psychosocial problems."' – Y. Kiunchi, Michigan State University, CHOICE, February 2014
"This book will be of value to clinicians, researchers and those interested in cross-cultural differences in the perception of addictive behaviours and their treatment, and those seeking alternative humanistic-based explanations for excessive behaviours. A highly recommended and informative read." – International Gambling Studies
Introduction: Turn On 1. Log In 2. The Internet Addiction Disorder 3. Critiques of the Internet Addiction Disorder Model 4. The Humanistic Intensive Internet Use Model 5. The Family War-Machine and the Search for Freedom 6. Push & Pull Factors 7. DSM-IV – Internet Addiction Disorder 8. Conclusion: Log off
Trent Bax is in the Department of Sociology at Ewha Womans University, South Korea.