The Chinese government has been concerned about internet addiction among the country's population for some time, with internet cafes often pointed to as a significant cause of the supposed problem. Some local and regional officials have tried before to ban the cafes, but that simply sent users underground. Now, however, the national government has banned the opening of any new internet cafes this year, apparently in an attempt to cut down on juvenile crime and internet addiction. It's not clear how not allowing new cafes to open will help actually reduce anything; at best, it might hinder the growth of these problems. The bigger issue, though, is the government's insistence that internet addiction is such a problem, and that cutting down on cafes will help solve it. For instance, when the country's first "halfway house" for young addicts opened, its staff told the story of how one of their first attendees spoke about his "depressive" family situation, and they sent a social worker to talk to his parents. That would seem to have little to do with cafes, and hint at a bigger underlying problem. If internet addiction is such a problem among young people (a government think tank says 13 percent of Chinese internet users under 18 are addicts), examining the issues that lead them to this addiction is the way forward, not attempting to shut down cafes, or use electric acupuncture or shock therapy.
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