Eleven-year-old Duong Anh Trung in a monk habit is sitting in silent contemplation in a small room at Tay Thien Truc Lam Zen Monastery in northern Vinh Phuc province.

It’s 3.30am. He will meditate until 5am.

Aside from his familiar glasses, Trung’s parents and friends said he was virtually unrecognisable.

Trung has been at the zen monastery for two weeks. He used to be addicted to computer games, which is why his parents sent him away to the monastery. It teaches teenagers maturity and self-reliance and how to be a good human being. It is working for Trung.

“I felt grown up. I do everything by myself, which I have never done before,” Trung said.

Trung is one of 50 former gamers, aged 10 to 19 who have come to the monastery for the summer holidays. Their parents also often stay for a few weeks to meditate and relax.

According to monk. Thich Truc Thanh Phuoc, they are either games addicts, spoilt brats or insecure.

Their day begins at 3.30am with an hour and a half of silent meditation. Then they do light work, such as cleaning and preparing food for lunch. Their classes on Buddhist Law run from 9am to 10.30am and from 2pm to 3.30pm.

Quoc Khanh, 11, from Hanoi came to the zen monastery with his brother.

“I was lazy and played games a lot. When I came here, the monks asked me to do simple things like washing dishes, washing my own clothes and to help others,” Khanh said, adding he felt much better about himself after joining the monastery.

At first, most of the children found it difficult to adapt to the silent atmosphere and the monastery’s strict rules. But in just a short time, they changed a lot, chief monk Thich Kien Nguyet said.

They gradually adapt to the rules, getting up early and doing things more independently.

“We always tell these children that they should not do things that are good for themselves but harmful to other,” he said.

There were some children who could not adapt themselves to the zen monastery’s harsh regulations and ended up returning home after only one or two days. But the majority stick it out and learn to love the monastic life.

Buddhism teaches them about love, mercy and tolerance, Thich Kien Nguyet said. Silent meditation, meanwhile, helps them to calm down, restrain anger and greed, and to become sound of mind./.