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Youngsters in Less Developed Cities More Prone to Web Addiction

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Chinese youngsters living in less developed cities have a higher proportion of Internet addicts than their peers in economically and socially more developed regions, a survey released Tuesday showed.

The survey, conducted by the Communication University of China, showed that between eight to nine percent of young Internet users in major cities like Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou are Internet addicts.

The survey defined Internet "addiction" being present when users display at least one of the following three symptoms: a continuous desire to use the Internet; anxiety or anger when cut off from the Internet; or greater happiness when on the Internet than in real life.

The situation is worse in some of China's western regions, the survey showed.

For example, in Guiyang, capital of Guizhou Province, and in Yinchuan, capital of Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region, 31.8 and 20.5 percent of young Internet surfers, respectively, are addicted.

Around 24 million urban respondents, aged six to 29, took part in the survey.

The regional imbalance was because youths in more developed cities have a wider and earlier exposure to the Internet and more choices in how to spend leisure time, the survey found.

It also found that around 14 percent of all Chinese urban Internet users in the age category are addicted to the Internet, about the same level as in 2005 and slightly higher than in 2007.

A document issued in late 2008 by the People's Liberation Army Military General Hospital of Beijing defined Internet addiction for those who spent more than six hours each day for three continuous months on the Internet.

However, in a draft guideline on Internet use by the underaged issued in November 2009, the Ministry of Health used the phrase "improper use of the Internet" in place of the term "addiction."

The ministry said in the document that parents and teachers should seek psychological or medical help when an underage person is found to have "strong desire" to use the Internet, hidden the time spent on the Internet, failed to reduce or stop using the Internet despite efforts, or showed anxiety or anger when cut off from the Internet for several days.

(Xinhua News Agency February 3, 2010)

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