Excerpts from: Japan Opens ‘Fasting Camps’ To Wean Kids Of Excessive Internet Usage

By Palash Ghosh, posted September 10, 2013



 In response to rising numbers of young people who are “pathologically addicted” to the internet, Japan is opening up so-called “internet fasting camps” to wean youths off the web. According to a report in Vice.com, researchers at Japan’s Nihon University estimate that about 8.1 percent of the country’s students are addicted to the internet, meaning that more than half-a-million kids between the ages of 12-and-18 in the nation as a whole suffer from this affliction.

 Such a condition leads to various psychological problems, including insomnia, eating disorders, poor academic performance, depression, and even deep vein thrombosis – the formation of blood clots arising for spending lengthy amounts of time in the same posture. A government study found that up to 15 percent of Japanese students spend as much as five hours online everyday and even more time on the internet on weekends.

As a result, the Tokyo government’s education ministry will introduce “web fasting camps” to help young people disconnect from their PCs, laptops, mobile phones and hand-held devices.

"It's becoming more and more of a problem," Akifumi Sekine, a spokesman for the education ministry, told the Daily Telegraph newspaper of Britain. "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." He added: "We want to get them out of the virtual world and to encourage them to have real communication with other children and adults.” Vice noted that like other addicts, youths forcibly removed from their beloved mobile devices may suffer withdrawal symptoms, i.e., “cold turkey.”

In the United States and China, countries with massive online usage and penetration, youths are also at risk for addiction. ... China has already established such “camps,” but these have been authoritarian and even brutal institutions. In Japan, officials are apparently taking a more humane approach to their web addicts, by encouraging kids to spend more time outside, playing sports and other healthy alternatives to the internet....

It is estimated that more than 80 percent of Japan’s web users visit blogs and contribute to them  -- again, one of the highest such figures in the world.