Health

Boot camp for the Internet-addicted

Published 7:25 PM ET, Tue April 26, 2016
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Two boys attend class at a military-style boot camp in Jinan, China. Photographer Lorenzo Maccotta spent about a week at the treatment center, one of hundreds for young people who are addicted to technology -- mostly online gaming. Lorenzo Maccotta/Contrasto/Redux Pictures
A 15-year-old boy at the center received these letters and pictures from relatives. Lorenzo Maccotta/Contrasto/Redux Pictures
"Internees," as Maccotta calls them, clean their dishes after lunchtime. At the center, they were subjected to "discipline and repetition," which the center's leaders said would cure their addiction. They might stay for a few weeks or many months, Maccotta said. Lorenzo Maccotta/Contrasto/Redux Pictures
A 15-year-old has scars on his arm from self-inflicted cigarette burns, Maccotta said. Lorenzo Maccotta/Contrasto/Redux Pictures
The boy on the left had been living at the boot camp in Jinan for four months when Maccotta visited in October. Lorenzo Maccotta/Contrasto/Redux Pictures
"Their personalities are annihilated," Maccotta said. They stay "behind a formal posture of silence and obedience. They don't show any sadness, but I'm sure they miss families and friends." Lorenzo Maccotta/Contrasto/Redux Pictures
A 14-year-old internee spends time in the kitchen. He had been living at the center for two months. Lorenzo Maccotta/Contrasto/Redux Pictures
A dormitory at the center in Jinan. Lorenzo Maccotta/Contrasto/Redux Pictures
This 12-year-old boy had been in the center for four months. Lorenzo Maccotta/Contrasto/Redux Pictures
Officials who lead the center believe its methods -- intense physical training, no use of computers -- "cures" most addictions, Maccotta said. Lorenzo Maccotta/Contrasto/Redux Pictures
Those at the center were as young as 8 and as old as 30, Maccotta said. Here, they attend a class in Confucian ethics. Lorenzo Maccotta/Contrasto/Redux Pictures
This 14-year-old girl had spent a week in the camp when she was photographed by Maccotta. Lorenzo Maccotta/Contrasto/Redux Pictures
Most of the children had been forced to enter the treatment center -- sometimes kicking and screaming -- by family members concerned about their physical and mental health, Maccotta said. Lorenzo Maccotta/Contrasto/Redux Pictures
A boy stands near teacher Zhang Dan Dan during training at the Yellow River. Lorenzo Maccotta/Contrasto/Redux Pictures