Beijing: The number of young Internet addicts in China soared to 24 million last year as the world`s largest web population exploded, according to a survey carried by state media Wednesday.
The number of young addicts almost doubled from 2005 and now accounts for one in seven young Internet users, according to the poll conducted by the China Youth Association for Network Development.
More than 7,000 people aged six to 29 were polled about their Internet habits in 30 provinces, municipalities and regions, the China Daily reported.
The definition of a web addict is vague, but online users fall into that category if school grades, careers or relationships are negatively impacted by their Internet activities.
They also have to always want to use the Internet, feel annoyed or depressed if not allowed to surf the web, or feel happier in cyberworld than in real life, the report said. At least 384 million people are online in China, and Internet addiction has caused increasing concern as desperate parents resort to extreme methods to try and rid their kids of their cravings.
In August, the death of a 15-year-old at an Internet rehabilitation camp in south China`s Guangxi region caused outrage after an autopsy concluded he was beaten to death.
Another teenager was seriously beaten up that month in a similar camp in the south-western province of Sichuan. There are at least 400 private Internet rehabilitation clinics nationwide.
The survey found that 15.6 percent of online users aged 18 to 23 were Internet addicts, the age group most adversely affected, according to the report. The Global Times newspaper, which also reported on the survey, said almost half of the addicts indulged in online games, while web chats and online romance were also a temptation.
The percentage of addicts in developed cities such as Beijing and Shanghai was much lower than in poorer places, the report said.