‘No violence, electric shocks or drugs’: New rules for China’s internet boot camps for children

Alice Yan
People surf the internet at an internet bar in Huaibei, Anhui, China.
Jie Zhao | Corbis | Getty Images

Controversial institutions claiming to help wean teenagers off their internet addiction through beatings, electric shocks or drugs will be banned under a new law drafted by the State Council.

The draft regulation on cyberprotection for minors was released for 30 days of public consultation on Friday.

By June of last year, about 23 percent of the 710 million internet users on the mainland were aged under 19, according to Legal ­Daily. And more than 90 percent of adolescents used the internet, the report said.

The previous draft of the legislation released in September was criticized for permitting schools and education authorities to contract services from institutions set up to help minors overcome their internet addiction.

A nurse distributes medicine at Daxing Internet Addiction Treatment Center in Beijing.
Kim Kyung-Hoon | Reuters

These institutions have prospered in recent years amid high demand from parents seeking treatment for their children. But there have been many mainland media reports of the centers using violence, electric shocks or drugs to force teens to change their behavior. Oversight of these institutions is also a grey area.

Under the most recent draft, organisations and individuals cannot abuse or threaten minors during treatment.

Online game firms should also have systems in place to prevent young people becoming addicted to the technology. This includes making the games off limits to minors between midnight and 8am every day and restricting the length of playing time.

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Companies must warn users of potential dangers if the content they display might induce adolescents to take part in any violence, bullying, suicide, sexual contact, begging, or tobacco or alcohol use.

People collecting or using personal information relating to minors on the internet should first obtain the consent of the individuals or their guardians, according to the draft law.

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