Does your kid need to go on a diet? A digital diet, I mean. Japan has the answer to its youngsters online addiction: "Internet fasting camps."
According to an article in the New York Post, the country figures a half-million of its young people are hooked on the web.
"It's becoming more and more of a problem," said a ministry spokesperson, Akifumi Sekine. "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."
There will be bona fide camps in which young people will retreat to the 'olden days,' where they have no access to the Internet, smart phones or video games. This is the government's response to a Health and Welfare study that found approximately 518,000 middle and high-schoolers are addicted to the Internet, with an 8.1 percent said to be "pathologically" so. Pathological meaning that their Internet use resulted in compromised sleep and nutrition. Nine percent of middle-schoolers and 15 percent of high school students admitted to spending more than five hours on screens every day.
All that screen time comes at a cost. Children are forsaking real communication with other kids and adults. And the effects of too much tech use can seriously hinder even a kindergartner. Though these camps are voluntary, kids will be encouraged to engage in sports and other outdoor activities.
If Japan is worried, then so should we be. According to stats from Nielsen and the International Telecommunications Union, China, the United States and India have equally high consumption rates when it comes to kids and screen time.
Time to get back to basics... Ever imposed an Internet fast on your own child? Spill it.
If your angel's crying jags make your ears bleed, consider the technique deployed by these cagey parents. Though they don't profess to be experts, when their little Scarlett loses it, they found that distracting her with a simple question quashes her tears virtually every time.
According to an article in the Toronto Star, a home video showing the tot's amazing response time and again has been viewed on YouTube more than 4.7 million times in a matter of days.
“[Scarlett's] a very active, talkative, silly, animated and affectionate one-year-old,” said dad Kosal Sen. “... Considering she's a baby, I would say the amount she cries is quite normal.”
And when she does cry, her parents have found that simply asking her, “What does a cow say?” will usually stop her in her tracks. In fact, the power of 'moo' seems to get her every time.
“My wife and I have been around children all our lives. ‘Distraction’ and ‘removal-from-the-situation’ has [sic] always been tools we used during tantrums,” said Sen.
Of course Sen and his wife had no clue that their trick would strike parenting gold. They are quick to point out that the distraction method doesn't work every single time, nor would they employ it in situations where their daughter was hurt or seriously upset.
“If a jackal bit her, I would not ask her to moo. When she's really hurt or upset, she gets lots of hugs and kisses.”
True, and what works for a one year old patently does not work on older kids, who wise up quick. If anyone knows how to curb a four year old's tantrum, I'm all ears...
If it feels like you're entered the realm of toddler hell, remember that it probably only feels that way. Get the reality check on meltdowns and tantrums.
Skeptics of true love need only read about Harold and Ruth Knapke who, after more than 65 years of marriage, died mere hours apart at the nursing home where they spent their last days together.
According to an article in the National Post, the Knapkes passed in their shared room just days before their 66th wedding anniversary. He died at 91, and she followed 11 hours later, aged 89.
Their remarkable story had been celebrated by various media outlets, with their daughters claiming their ailing father "willed himself" to stay alive until she was ready to join him on the next part of their journey together.
Harold and Ruth had apparently known each other as children, though their courtship began while he served in the army in World War II.
Even as they raised six children, their love somehow held steadfast. This summer they were pictured holding hands through a bed guardrail. Touchingly, a joint funeral was held for the Ohio couple.
“It is really just a love story,” said daughter Carol Romie. “They were so committed and loyal and dedicated, they weren’t going to go anywhere without the other one.”
Having worked in a nursing home, I've witnessed this phenomenon firsthand. Couples who have been together for a long time often pass in quick succession, as if they have forgotten how or are simply unwilling to live apart.
Call me a hopeless romantic, but I think their story is quite magical. Tips for a long marriage from another couple with 65 years under their belt. (And hon, if you're reading, only another 50 years to go!)