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China drafts in parent army to battle internet addiction

One child, two hours a week policy

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China has sought to battle the scourge of internet addiction among the youth by giving parents the right to monitor their offspring's online meanderings.

Eight government departments have issued new guidelines due to come into force from next month.

These will allow, among other things, parents to set restrictions on their kids' online time, which service providers will be obliged to respect.

Operators are urged to set aside staff to deal with the project. The ministries, including the Ministry of Public Security, said children shouldn't spend more than two hours a week playing online games, or spend more than $1.50 a month on such services.

Xinhua reported the project had been piloted last year, and have "proved effective in helping juveniles overcome addictions to online games".

Reactions to the dictat didn't hold much hope for an end to China's growing army of net addicts. If anything, the grown-ups appear to have already thrown in the towel in the hope of an easy life.

"It's unnecessary and it will prompt more rebelliousness from the children," one father glumly told the China Daily newspaper, AFP reports.

Meanwhile, Gu Jun, a sociologist at Shanghai University, said the order seemed unfeasible and a recipe for family conflicts.

While there have been reports of children being pushed to the limit in unauthorised net addiction boot camps, the kids have also pushed back. Last June, 14 kids staged a daring break-out from one camp which was only foiled when it turned out they didn't have the cash to pay their getaway driver - a taxi. ®

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