Japanese Institutions Tackle Internet Addiction Head On
With over 500,000 teenagers in the country of Japan believed to be addicted to the internet at varying degrees, Japan is just one of the many Asian nations which have decided to take firmer actions that could help to halt some of the more damaging aspects of internet and gaming addiction in the youth population. More recently, countries like South Korea have implemented limitations of internet usage and game time in people under the age of 18, including time restrictions and codes needed to log on. These regulations went into effect for both home users, and those who use popular net cafe centers to connect to games and social media.
In Japan’s case, the matter falls to “addiction detox” centers, where users are not allowed to use their smartphones, cannot connect to the internet, and other services, all of which are aimed at detaching Japanese teenagers from their internet tethers, often for their own health and safety.
A Nation with a Strange Crisis
Japan’s internet addiction statistic is just part of its much larger cultural issues, which are unique to the island, and could be attributed to its focus on work culture, shame as motivation, and cultural isolation in some aspects of early adult life. Facing the issue of under population and a lower child birth rate than could be expected to care for its growing elderly population, Japan’s internet addiction issue could be a symptom of a larger social disease; disaffected youth who feel they have no connection to society at large.
The government’s estimation of 500,000 internet addiction is something of an admission to a failure to recognize the problem initially, as most addictions tend to go. Health issues, including malnourishment, insomnia, and even social or mental symptoms that include asocial behavior and avoidance, are also in line with the culture of “working too hard” that Japan’s urban populations are known for. In this instance, the problems stem from an entirely different vector; net cafes in Japan offer users both small pods to play games and browse the web, and then “hotel” pods where they can sleep, never leaving the cafe itself. For some Japanese workers, that situation isn’t dissimilar to the ethos of working and sleeping all at the office, all for the sake of a deadline.
How Much is Too Much?
Some users are connected online for as much as 10 to 12 hours per day, or higher. That number may seem high to those outside of Japan, but when one considers how many people around the world constantly use their smartphones, watch Netflix, and engage in other online activities like gaming, it’s actually believable. Internet detox centers use complete separation to try and get people to enjoy offline activities, real life social connections, and more. As internet usage rises globally, however, this is a problem which will not be isolated to any one nation. Governments around the world may soon be dealing with the epidemic on their own doorstep.