Father's anger over son's Internet addiction
By Huang Zhiling
Updated: 2007-12-18 07:31

A middle-aged man in Chengdu, Sichuan Province, was so angry with his son's Internet addiction that he tried to burn down an Internet cafe in the city.

Zhang Nan, 43, from Nanjing, Jiangsu Province, was once the general manager of an interior decoration company. Ever since he divorced his wife 10 years ago, he has lived with his 15-year-old son Zhang Duan, and considers him his only hope.

Because Zhang Duan likes basketball, Zhang Nan sent him to a training center in Chengdu last year. The center also offers school courses.

Zhang Duan's potential as a basketball player impressed his coaches. However, the boy became addicted to computer games at Internet cafes near the center this autumn and seldom returned home.

"I visited every Internet cafe near the center to beg their owners to deny admission to minors like my son. But in vain," Zhang Nan said.

He gave up his job and moved out of his luxury apartment and rented one close to the center so that he could keep an eye on his son.

But Zhang Duan often managed to give his father the slip, spending all night at Internet cafes.

"Last month he sold his motorcycle and two cell phones to raise about 10,000 yuan ($1,333). All the money was squandered at 10 Internet cafes near the center," Zhang Nan said.

Zhang Duan admits he is preoccupied with the Internet. He once spent a whole week at the cafes without returning to the center or his home. Because of Zhang Duan's addiction, his coaches have little hope of turning him into a potential basketball star.

Last Tuesday, Zhang Duan sent his father a text message to the effect he would be spending the night at a classmate's dormitory. But his teacher told Zhang Nan his son was not spending the night at the dormitory.

Zhang Nan went from Internet caf to another in search of his son. He found him the following afternoon at the Grand World Internet Cafe.

"He had played computer games for nearly 20 hours," Zhang Nan said.

Zhang Duan told his father the Grand World Internet Cafe had given him a membership card and invited minors like himself to a barbecue.

Zhang Nan asked to see the owner to explain why a minor like his son had been admitted knowing it was against the law. But the owner refused to talk to him.

An angry Zhang Nan decided to burn down the premises on Wednesday. "If I can save my son, I think it is worthwhile to be thrown into prison," he said.

On Wednesday afternoon, Zhang brought gasoline to the cafe but was stopped by the police while trying to set fire to the premises.

Officials from the Wuhou district cultural bureau, in charge of the management of Internet cafes near the center, rushed to the scene.

Following an investigation, the Grand World Internet Caf was fined 5,000 yuan.

According to Tang Ke, one of the officials, the bureau had asked all Internet caf owners in the district's 13 streets to ensure that no minors would in future be admitted. Otherwise, they would face heavy fines.

Zhang Nan has followed the advice of the center to let his son live there rather than at home.

"Strict rules at the center will make it impossible for students to leave for the Internet cafes at night," Zhu Jiao, a teacher, said.

Zhang Nan has also been advised to give his son only enough money for food and other daily essentials.

(China Daily 12/18/2007 page6)