With more than 500,000 Japanese children believed to be addicted to the internet, the education ministry has proposed “fasting” camps aimed at encouraging a generation that is constantly online to spend their youth outdoors.
The average Japanese teenager reportedly spends over five hours online, forcing them to skip meals and even lose sleep, suggesting that this could be the onset of “pathological” addiction.
“It’s becoming more and more of a problem,” Akifumi Sekine, a spokesman for the ministry of education told The Daily Telegraph.
“We estimate this affects 518,000 children at middle and high schools across Japan.”
Although it is difficult to get accurate figures on the scale of the problem and the number of cases is rising, he added.
The ministry said it will conduct a comprehensive research project on internet addiction that will be included in the government’s budget in the next fiscal year.
Programs will also be aimed at getting children away from their computers, smartphones and hand-held gaming devices by encouraging them to take part in outdoor activities, team sports and games.
Education experts and psychiatrists will also be available for the children to talk to and will provide counseling.
“We want to get them out of the virtual world and encourage them to have real communications with other children and adults,” Sekine said.
by Maesie Bertumen
Photo: Miki Yoshihito/Flickr