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*NOMINATED - GRAND JURY PRIZE - WORLD CINEMA, DOCUMENTARY - SUNDANCE FESTIVAL 2014
China is the first country in the world to classify internet addiction as a clinical disorder.
WEB JUNKIE is a feature documentary, which identifies Internet Addiction and spotlights the revolutionary treatment used in Chinese Rehab Centers. Internet addiction is now a global issue. An increasing number of people, especially young adults, are using the Internet more than ever before. The film delves into a Beijing treatment center and explores the cases of three young Chinese teenagers from the day they arrive at the treatment center through the 3 months period of being held at the center, and then their return to their homes. The film follows both the underlying issues related to the disorders, as well as the manner and treatment the patients receive. Prof. Tao Ran established the world's first Internet Addiction clinic, and he promises to cure children of so-called Internet Addiction, an ailment that has grown into one of China's most feared public health hazards.
The program admits children between the ages of 13 and 18; they are forced to undergo military-inspired physical training and comply with monitored sleep and food standards. Throughout their stay at the clinic, they are patrolled by the military guards who protect the children's quarters, which like prison cells are surrounded by gates and fences. Despite such conditions, parents voluntarily send their children to the treatment center and relinquish personal involvement. There is no one-on-one therapy, and the children's emotional needs are met with group therapy sessions twice a week. The treatment is very expensive, and parents often have no choice but to borrow money in order to afford to send their child to the clinic. For them it is worth it - steering their kid away from this addiction and redevelop their real life communication skills is a top priority.
WEB JUNKIE provides a microcosm of modern Chinese life, examines inter-generational pressures, and takes a hard look at one of the symptoms of the so-called Internet age.