Progress on the March (continued) -- A summer camp for computer addicts
Sorry to have been away from the weblog for a while. I've been vacationing
in coastal Maine. Upon my return I ran across this story about a holiday
retreat of a different sort.
There are, of course, a great many things people grow pathologically
attached to in our addictive, consumer society. But reports of kids
getting hooked on computers are of special note because the
machines are still widely touted as being (in and of themselves) of tremedous
educational value. We still have not begun to weigh adequately the balance
of social cost and benefit in the heralded computer revolution.
Computer cure at camp for children
Ben Aris in Berlin
Wednesday August 6, 2003
Given half a chance Daniel, who is 13, will spend up to 12 hours a day staring
at a computer screen. He weighs 110kg (17st), has no friends at school, and
has been in constant trouble with his teachers. The problem faced by Daniel
(not his real name) is all too familiar in Germany, where a growing number of
children are addicted to playing computer games or surfing the internet.
In a desperate effort to reconnect him with real life his parents booked him into
the Boltenhagen summer camp, Europe's first school for teenage computer addicts,
where children are taught how to make friends, exercise and play games.
The camp, on the Baltic coast, is run by an evangelical charity, but the course is
funded by the German social security services and the children are from all denominations.
Ute Garnew, the camp director, said the demand for the 60 places had been so high
since it opened in February that parents, "really have to fight to get a place".
There is only one computer on the site and the children are allowed to use it for only
half an hour a day, and are not allowed to play games or surf the net.