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Yang Yongxin, Saving Youngsters from Internet Addiction
    2008-10-22 15:51:15     CRIENGLISH.com

46-year-old Yang Yongxin is a psychiatrist in East China's Shandong Province, who has been working in the field for over twenty years. In the 1990s, he began a specific research study of Internet addiction and has treated dozens of Internet addicts during the past decade.

Our reporter Yingying has the story.


Yang Yongxin [photo source: langya.cn]

 
In 1999, Yang Yongxin bought a computer to make working at home more convenient. His son was very excited when Yang Yongxin brought the computer home, as computers were rare in those days.

The boy sometimes played computer games on it after finishing his homework. At first, Yang Yongxin did not mind this at all, but later, he found that the time his son spent with the computer was increasing daily. When he stopped his son from spending so much time on the computer, a few pieces of news attracted his attention -  some children failed to pass exams because they spent too much time playing on-line games or chatting. He read other reports of children leaving home because their parents stopped them from spending much time online.
 
"As a psychiatrist, I immediately realized that this was actually a psychological disease. So I began to research on the issue of Internet addiction."

It was not an easy job. Parents didn't think Internet addiction was a psychological problem and refused to send their children to hospital for psychological treatment.

Yang Yongxin then began to give lectures about Internet addiction in schools, hoping this would help people realize the dangers and get a better understanding of both computers and the Internet. Some parents turned to him for help. Some had failed in other attempts to tackle the problem and regarded him as their last hope.

Yang Yongxin agreed to help and his treatment was very successful. When word spread of his ability to help, more parents came to ask him for help. His reputation grew nationwide as an expert of Internet addiction and he founded a treatment center for Internet addicts.

Things seem to be going smoothly for Yang Yongxin but he still has to face challenges everyday. Children are often angry when they arrive at his treatment centre because many of them don't voluntarily attend, and are cheated or forced by their parents. There have been instances of violence and Yang Yongxin has had to control them. 

"Once, a boy held his aunt under duress with a knife and demanded that we let him leave, otherwise he would kill her. I refused and grabbed his weapon when he was calling his friends for help. The boy kept fighting in the following days but calmed down gradually. Months later, he got rid of Internet addiction successfully and left hospital to continue his study."

For Yang Yongxin, seeing children emerge from the shadow of Internet addiction is the happiest part of his life. He spends all his time working with Internet addicts in his treatment center and the youngsters are thankful for what he has done for them. They call Yang Yongxin, 'Uncle Yang'.

25-year-old Zhai Xiaoping has been receiving treatment in the center for about three months. 

"I first used the Internet as a way to kill time, but later, couldn't leave it. I played on-line games and chatted on the Internet everyday. My parents did not know this at first, and believed I was at school when I was actually in Internet cafes. I felt uncomfortable and sleepy if I couldn't log on the Internet, just like getting an illness. I finally realized the serious problem and came to Uncle Yang's treating center for help. Thanks to his treatment, I now do not want to play on-line games or chat on the Internet anymore."

And Tang Ruinan from Inner Mongolia, who is only 14, feels regret for how she has behaved towards her mom. 

"At that time, no one could stop me from playing on the Internet. I played all day long and did not want to come back home at all. One day, I was playing in an Internet cafe. It was very late. My mom called me and asked me to come back home but I refused. She then told me that she would commit suicide if I continued to do so. I took it as a threat and did not reply to her. In fact, I was thinking how great if would be if she did. That would mean I could do whatever I like. Luckily, she didn't die when she tried to kill herself."

The little girl sobs when she tells the story, saying she now knows how much harm she has brought to her parents.

Yang Yongxin does not only give treatment to Internet addicts but also educates their parents. Mrs. Wang is one of them. 

"Doctor Yang always says that improper family education of parents cause the problems of their children. So we all have to find problems in ourselves. Take me for example, I was holding a high requirement for my son and gave him too much pressure. He could not afford it and wanted to escape. Thus Internet became his shelter."

Today, with the help of Yang Yongxin, over a hundred youngsters have recovered from Internet addiction. However, as the popularity of the Internet increases rapidly, Internet addiction has become a social problem of China. And Yang Yongxin still has a lot of work to do to save youngsters from Internet addiction.

For Beyond Beijing, I'm Yingying.

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