Japan plans 'fasting camps' for Web-addicted children

The Japanese Ministry of Education plans on introducing "fasting camps" for children addicted to the Internet...

The addictive nature of the Internet is undeniable, with social networking platforms, video channels and other websites churning out enough content to keep one occupied for hours at a time. A new study by the Japanese Ministry of Education has now found that more than 500,000 children in the country are believed to be addicted to the Internet, according to the Daily Telegraph.

The affected children are believed to fall in the age bracket of 12 to 18. The Ministry, however, says that it is not easy to get an exact figure on the scale of the problem. While talking about this, Akifumi Sekine, a spokesman for the Ministry, told the source that, “It's becoming more and more of a problem. We estimate this affects around 518,000 children at middle and high schools across Japan, but that figure is rising and there could be far more cases because we don't know about them all."


In order to address this, the Ministry is working on setting up a comprehensive research project into Internet addiction in the next financial year. To that effect, the Ministry has reportedly asked the government to help fund immersion programmes i.e. outdoor camps and activities to get children away from influencers like computers, smartphones and gaming devices.


Japan plans to introduce Internet "fasting camps" for addicted children



Reinforcing the Ministry’s stance, Sekine said, "We want to get them out of the virtual world and to encourage them to have real communication with other children and adults." And the first step to that goal is the establishment of “fasting” camps in places like outdoor learning centres and public facilities. The primary motive of these camps will be to wean children off their dependence on the Internet. In these camps, children will be motivated to join in outdoor activities, team sports and games. Professional counselors like psychiatrists and clinical psychotherapists will also be a part of these camps to provide counseling for children who may be faced with withdrawal systems.


According to the report, Internet addiction is believed to be one of the main causes behind sleep and eating disorders among young people in Japan, with the number rising steadily. Extreme cases have reportedly developed symptoms of depression and deep vein thrombosis. It should be noted that the latter is often seen with passengers traveling on long-haul flights who are subjected to cramped spaces. There are also studies which indicate that an increased obsession with online activities is directly proportional to falling school performances.


With Internet penetration on the rise globally, it can be assumed that Japan is not the only country which is facing this issue. India recently crossed Japan to become the third largest Internet user population in the world. And the majority of Internet users have been found to fall below the 35 year age bracket.

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