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Internet addicts halfway house opens in Shanghai

Written by: Staff

SHANGHAI, Aug 24 (Reuters) Mainland China has opened its first halfway house for Internet addicts, offering shell-shocked teenagers counselling, books -- and the use of computers.

The shelter can hold four minors for one-night stays and help bridge gaps between children and parents, the Shanghai Daily said.

''None of the teenagers are forced to come here,'' the newspaper quoted Wang Hui, the house's chief social worker, as saying.

''We wander around in nearby Internet bars at night and bring them to the halfway house if the teen agrees.'' Computer and online gaming has exploded in China in recent years, with an estimated 14 million people taking part.

Amid growing concern that more and more young people are getting hooked, China has issued a raft of regulations aimed at curbing excessive game playing at Internet cafes and heavily fining owners that admit minors.

The Shanghai shelter, modelled on one already in operation Hong Kong, took in the first three boys on Monday, the paper said, including Chen Jiafeng -- a 17-year-old ''fed up with the depressive atmosphere'' of his family.

Chen went home after talking with a psychologist for four hours and after social workers visited his family to discuss proper parent-child communications, the paper said.

In May, the parents of a 13-year-old boy who killed himself after playing a computer game for 36 hours sued the game's Chinese distributor.


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