ILY Japan

Japan Wants to Treat Internet-Addicted Kids With Offline ‘Fasting Camps’

Kids, if you can read this, you've been warned.
Have fun at camp! (Photo: Deep Roots at Home)

Have fun at camp, nerd! (Photo: Deep Roots at Home)

We here at Betabeat will be the first ones to admit that we’re addicted to the Internet. Nothing induces more fear into our brittle bones than being asked to log off for the day. But since we’re adults we can make the rules, unlike some Internet-addicted children in Japan who might be strong-armed into a low-level form of rehab.

Looking for ways to reduce the worrying statistic that 500,000 Japanese teenagers are addicted to the Internet, the country is pumping money into “immersion programs” designed to help kids close tabs, sign off and breathe in some fresh air. Who would’ve guessed sitting crouched over a computer could lead to serious health problems and dissolution of social skills?

The so-called “fasting camps” will be held in something called the “outdoors” and participants will be completely cut off from Internet. If you’re not having an anxiety attack already, this might do it: kids will be required to take part in games (not Dots), play team sports and other assorted outdoor activities that isn’t holding out their phones toward the sky for a stronger signal.

There will also be on-site psychotherapists “to provide counseling should the transition back into the real world prove too traumatic.” Akifumi Sekine, the department’s spokesman, threw a final dagger into our WiFi-connected heart:

“We want to get them out of the virtual world and to encourage them to have real communication with other children and adults,” Mr Sekine said.

Are the psychotherapists trained to deal with how overwhelming our Snapchat inbox is going to be? Somebody, get us a Lexapro.

Follow Jordan Valinsky on Twitter or via RSS. jvalinsky@observer.com