Dongguan Internet addict jailed for desperate robbery, banned from Internet cafes

On February 13, writes Dongguan Daily, the city’s Second People’s Court sentenced a 17-year-old boy to 1.5 years in prison for his Internet addiction-fueled role in a robbery.

Late one night in September last year, out of money to stay at the wangba but sorely in need of another Internet fix, he and a friend went to a park and ambushed a man passing by on his electric bicycle, taking it with them along with 65 RMB of the man’s money.

As part of the sentence, the judge also ordered the boy to pay 1,000 RMB in compensation to the victim, and banned him from entering any wangba within the coming two years, the first ban of its kind to be handed down in the city.

The Dongguan Daily reports that two days prior to the robbery, the teen’s father came home one evening to find his son completely lost inside a game. The father smashed the computer monitor, prompting the boy to run out of the house. After two full days spent in a wangba, unreachable by his parents, the boy’s money was spent, leading to the robbery plan.

In related news, Yangcheng Evening News ran a story this week from China National Radio about Tonecan, Dongguan’s largest wangba chain which has gone from 60 Internet cafes in 2011 to now just three branches.

Three factors explain the sudden drop in business, says company chairman Huang Peihong: the numbers of migrant workers—its largest customer base—are dropping, smartphones have become the primary source of Internet access for a growing number of people, and optical fiber infrastructure projects have made home Internet connections more universal. As factories started closing down in 2011, workers moved away.

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