We here at Tech in Asia love the internet as much as anyone. In fact, we probably love it more than most people. But we apparently don’t love it as much as a Sichuan teen nicknamed Xiao Long who tried to murder his entire family simply because they were restricting his internet time.
According to a story in the WCC Daily, the 14-year-old Xiao Long really loved surfing the web. But his parents, especially his mother, were concerned that Xiao Long had become addicted and began strictly regulating his internet time. Xiao Long did not take kindly to this. “They were controlling me too tightly, not letting me on the internet,” he told the press. “If I kill them, then there’d be no one to control me, so I’d be happy.”
Xiao Long put his murderous plan into action one night before dinner, surreptitiously putting pesticide cooking oil his mother used to make the stewed cauliflower and meat dish his mother had prepared for the family. He told his parents he had already eaten, so his father, mother, elder brother, and sister-in-law ate the dish without him. They thought it tasted a little odd, but finished it anyway.
Soon after, Xiao Long’s father began to feel ill. At first, it seemed he had a cold, so the family rushed out and bought some cold medicine, but soon everyone else was feeling ill. Fevers flared up, as did vomiting, and when the local clinic diagnosed them with food poisoning they were moved to a nearby hospital. There, testing revealed that the family had been poisoned. Doctors managed to save all of them, but it was especially close for Xiao Long’s mother and father, who both had to be placed in intensive care.
The family recovered, but a village official thought the case seemed odd and reported it to police. The police were surprised to learn that a banned pesticide containing sulfur had somehow gotten into the family’s cooking oil. “This is a pesticide that can’t even be sold in the market, how could it have gotten into vegetable cooking oil?” one officer told the media. Pressing further, police learned that the 14 year old Xiao Long hadn’t eaten that night, and when questioned Xiao Long quickly admitted that he had been trying to kill his family because they weren’t letting him on the internet.
In fairness to Xiao Long, his parents were pretty extreme. “The week before it happened, I scared him by saying if you sneak out to go to the internet cafe again I’ll break your arms and legs,” his mother admitted. “We shouldn’t have threatened him,” his father agreed. But with that said, it doesn’t seem that either parent actually did physically abuse Xiao Long, and this was probably just the sort of empty threat parents make all the time to try to shock their kids into listening. Certainly, it doesn’t justify attempted murder.
Less than a month ago, we looked at another case where a Chinese net user murdered two people and committed arson just because his internet connection dropped. Xiao Long, who has (obviously) been arrested, didn’t end up killing anyone, but his case is arguably even more disturbing since he’s just a kid and he was trying to kill four people in his own family. He is very lucky that his victims survived.
China’s government is already aware that game and internet addiction is a serious problem, and is currently working on its own China-specific diagnostic criteria. But Xiao Long’s case is another piece of evidence that effective methods of treatment and public education about the problem are just as important. Xiao Long may well be mentally disturbed, but even so, if his parents had been better informed about how to handle his burgeoning internet addiction, they might never have ended up getting poisoned by their own son.
(WCC Daily via QQ Games)