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.