Web Junkie (2014) MIFF Review


China 74 Mins

China is the only country in the world to officially register internet addiction as a clinical condition. The main concern is for the teenagers, so the state has set up a series of rehabilitation camps for teenagers. They are like a combination of a boot camp, a prison and a psychiatric ward. The teenagers run drills, attend school and do chores, and then attend individual, group and family therapy sessions.

Whether or not you agree with China that internet addiction is a clinical condition, it seems that locking kids up is somewhat heavy-handed. The conditions of the camp are very basic and, in some cases, quite run down. The therapists and doctors all seem to be quite young, mostly women who are receiving pressure from above to get results that can be reported. When the boys (and the documentary very much focuses on the boys) lose it a bit, they are comforted, but given that many were tricked into coming, in some cases, even drugged, it is not surprising that they would get angry. Will it make a difference to the teenagers, spending a few months in this place? Who knows?

Web Junkie is screening at 9pm on Sunday August 3 at the Kino and at 1:45pm on Sunday August 9 at Hoyts. Book tickets at MIFF or call 9662 3722

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