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'Mental health of teenagers' at risk

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China has shut down more than 8,600 cybercafes over the last couple of months because of fears that the Net could corrupt the minds of youngsters.

This latest crackdown on unlicensed Internet cafes began in February after authorities warned that cybercafes can affect the "mental health of teenagers" while spreading "unhealthy online information". As part of China's bid to protect youngsters, authorities also ruled that Internet cafes are not to operate in residential areas or within 200 metres of primary and high schools.

Following a recent operation to close places that provide people with Net access, Xinhuanet quotes Minister of Culture Sun Jiazheng as saying: "Some unlicensed Internet cafes, especially in some townships, counties and areas joining town and country, still need to be clamped down on, and some local governments do not impose severe punishment on those cafes who allow the entry of juveniles."

"We must take utmost resolutions and make utmost efforts in the clean-up campaign to achieve our anticipated goal, for Internet cafe management has an important bearing on the healthy growing of juveniles."

As if to prove a point, Xinhuanet cites the tragic case of two youths who were crushed to death by a train when they fell asleep on a railway track after spending 48 hours in a cybercafe. ®

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