Is this a solution for Internet-addicted kids?
With children and teenagers headed back to school next week, there’s no doubt that many parents will be weaning their kids off television, video games, and Internet and smartphone use over the long weekend. In Japan, the country’s government considers this a national issue, announcing recently that the education ministry will offer Internet “fasting” camps as early as next year.
According to the Mainichi (a daily newspaper in Japan), more than 500,000 children in Japan between 12 and 18 years of age are believed to suffer from “a state of Internet addiction”. A research team at the country’s Nihon University surveyed about 100,000 school-age children between October 2012 and March 2013 and found that 8.1 percent of them identified with Internet addiction.
The education ministry has therefore proposed that Japan’s government should fund Internet-fasting camps over the next fiscal year, the Daily Telegraph reports.
"We want to get them out of the virtual world and to encourage them to have real communication with other children and adults," ministry spokesperson Akifumi Sekine told the British newspaper.
During the fasting camps, children would not have access to the Internet and would instead be encouraged to play outdoors. Psychiatrists and clinical psychotherapists would reportedly be on hand to assist the children during that time.
While Vancouver parents might scoff at the idea of sending their children to an Internet-fasting camp, Canada may not be far behind. Addictions experts and educators warn of young children being "plugged in" too soon, and video-game addiction is a real and growing problem.