Internet addiction is becoming a big problem for children in Japan, what with the ubiquity of the “world wide web” and the proliferation of different gadgets with which kids can access the Net. Japan’s Ministry of Education estimates that there are more than 500,000 Japanese children between the ages of 12 and 18 that have an addiction to the internet, although the officials from the ministry admit that it is quite difficult to get accurate figures and give proper perspective on the scale of the problem.
“It’s becoming more and more of a problem,” said Akifumi Sekine, spokesman for the ministry. “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,” Sekine added, giving voice to the immensity of the problem. With this in mind, the ministry is planning a comprehensive research project into internet addiction in the next fiscal year, just to get the proper scope and numbers involved. It has also asked the government to fund immersion programs designed to get children away from their computers, mobile phones and hand-held game devices. “We want to get them out of the virtual world and to encourage them to have real communication with other children and adults,” Sekine said. The ministry is proposing to hold these “fasting” camps at outdoor learning centers and other public facilities where children will have no access to the Internet.
In these camps, these Japanese children will be encouraged to take part in engaging outdoor activities, team sports and games. The program will have psychiatrists and clinical psychotherapists on hand to provide counseling if there are cases where transition back into the real world prove too traumatic. In Japan, experts say that addiction to the Internet can be blamed for sleep and eating disorders in growing numbers of young people in Japan. Some very extreme cases have led to depression and even deep vein thrombosis, the latter more commonly associated with passengers in cramped conditions on long-haul flights.
[via The Telegraph]