Outdoor retreats for overloaded Internet users are nothing new—they’re like glorified camping trips. But the very idea has gained more steam in recent months, not just in the good old U.S., but in countries like Japan, too. And according to a Telegraph report, children between the ages of 12 and 18 are becoming so addicted to the Internet the Japanese ministry of education to wants to set up “fasting” camps at outdoor learning centers. Basically, summer camps without any Internet.
Figures detailing precisely how many young children are addicted to the Internet are hard to nail down, but the ministry believes the number to be upwards of 500,000 kids. With access so readily available through smartphones, laptops, tablets, etc., the figure is likely well above the half a million mark—and this doesn’t even take adults into account. “It’s becoming more and more of a problem,” Akifumi Sekine, a spokesman for the ministry said. “There could be far more cases because we don’t know about them all.”
The goal of the camps will be to get young children used to life without the Internet, and encourage them to interact with fellow peers and adults. The outdoor locale will provide a backdrop perfect for team activities, and provide a nice break from blinding screens and terrible Internet comments. Psychiatrists and clinical psychotherapists will allegedly be on hand for counseling purposes, the Telegraph said.
In addition to concerns over declining school performances, the affliction of Internet addiction is allegedly leading to sleep and eating disorders in Japan’s younger population. In some extreme cases, symptoms of depression and even blood clots have been blamed on Internet addiction.
So are summer retreats the answer? Maybe for a short time. But Internet usage is becoming so common it’s basically necessary for everyday life: school, work, etc. I know for our job, “fasting” from the Internet is out of the question, though moderation is never a bad thing. Internet addiction is certainly an issue worth looking into, and it’s always good to remember to step away every once and awhile.