Series Sheds Light on China’s Dodgy Internet Addiction Schools

Yang Yongxin and his infamous school for treating internet addiction have been incorporated into the new online series “CrossFire” as a reminder of the Chinese esports community’s traumatic history.

A Chinese online drama about a military-style boarding school for treating internet addiction, featuring a grotesque caricature of its founder, has unearthed painful memories in thousands of children who experienced brutal treatment during a decadelong controversy.

The psychiatrist figure in the TV show “CrossFire,” which premiered July 20, reminds many viewers of Yang Yongxin, notorious for advocating electroshock therapy to treat internet addiction. Also known as “Uncle Yang” — a moniker coined by media — his internet addiction school has left an indelible mark on millions of netizens who came of age in the last decade, when esports was labeled “electronic heroin” and military-style boot camps were established to keep children from becoming slaves to their screens.

“I’m deeply saddened after watching this,” read one comment under a related post on microblogging platform Weibo. “Most parents in China want an obedient and docile child, but they don’t make any parenting efforts and leave the responsibility with other individuals and institutions. It’s devastating.”

Based on a popular South Korean tactical shooter game of the same name, “CrossFire” tells the story of two generations of esports athletes — the stories take place 11 years apart — fighting for recognition and success. The 36-episode series has become immensely popular among Chinese audiences, drawing 100 million views in four days on Tencent Video, while a related hashtag on Weibo had racked up more than 3.5 million views as of Tuesday. Continue to read the full article here


– This article originally appeared on Sixth Tone.