This week China's Health Ministry recognized Internet addiction as an official disorder.
It didn't take long for a convicted murder to take notice and attempt to exploit the new policy.
As reported by the Shanghai Daily, 22-year-old Hu Ange, on Death Row for poisoning his parents, is claiming that his online gaming addiction made him criminally insane:
The [appeals] court heard [that] Hu was addicted to the online game Legend. His parents gave him 50,000 yuan (US$7,353) to support his seafood business in March 2007, but he spent it all on the online game. Legend is an online game where players can buy virtual weapons and equipment with real money.
The report said Hu bought 20 packs of tetramine on July 14, 2007, and poisoned his father Hu Ming the next morning. His father was saved after emergency treatment. Hu Ange then bought 45 more packs of tetramine on July 20 and mixed them with beef on July 24. Both his parents were poisoned after eating the beef at lunch. Hu Ange's mother asked him to call for help but he stayed in his room to play Legend, the report said.
The Times Online explains the Chinese government's assessment of those who suffer from Internet addiction:
According to Chinese estimates, about 10 per cent of young users suffer from addiction and of those about 70 per cent are male. Dr Tao says that the condition is often merely a symptom of deeper psychological problems. Almost all child addicts have behavioural problems, which are then aggravated by their addiction. Before they came to the internet, they may have turned to crime or drugs to cope with their feelings of alienation, he said. Some were suicidal.