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China's e-Junkies Head for Rehab

Beijing hospital ward treats Internet addicts

2 min read

Qin Xinle's teenage son had stopped eating meals regularly and had refused to go to school. The boy's Internet addiction had gotten so bad he sometimes played online games for 24 hours without stop. Finally, at his wit's end, Qin piled his family into their car and drove 5 hours to Beijing, to check the boy into the Internet addiction center at the Beijing Military Clinic, which occupies space on the campus of the Beijing Military Region Central Hospital. Here, Qin's son wouldn't have access to the Internet or a phone for the next 20 days, and he wouldn't be allowed to leave.

This, China's first in-patient Internet addiction center, often is fully booked. It currently is expanding its capacity from 40 to 300 beds, and it's being studied by other hospitals around the country, which plan to open similar wards. So widespread is the concern about teenagers falling prey to the Internet's allure, the central government has even sought to ban youths under the age of 18 from going to Internet cafés.

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Why the Internet Needs the InterPlanetary File System

Peer-to-peer file sharing would make the Internet far more efficient

12 min read
An illustration of a series
Carl De Torres

When the COVID-19 pandemic erupted in early 2020, the world made an unprecedented shift to remote work. As a precaution, some Internet providers scaled back service levels temporarily, although that probably wasn’t necessary for countries in Asia, Europe, and North America, which were generally able to cope with the surge in demand caused by people teleworking (and binge-watching Netflix). That’s because most of their networks were overprovisioned, with more capacity than they usually need. But in countries without the same level of investment in network infrastructure, the picture was less rosy: Internet service providers (ISPs) in South Africa and Venezuela, for instance, reported significant strain.

But is overprovisioning the only way to ensure resilience? We don’t think so. To understand the alternative approach we’re championing, though, you first need to recall how the Internet works.

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