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In Brazil, Where Parents Send Kids To Digital Detox Camps

What used to be simple outdoor fun is now considered real child therapy in our hyper-connected world.

Kids at a digital detox camp near Sao Paulo
Kids at a digital detox camp near Sao Paulo
Thais Bilenky

SÃO PAULO — Bedtime is the most difficult time of day here. They can't decide whether to stare at the ceiling, hum the latest pop hits or simply close their eyes and wait for sleep to take them away.

In the morning too, it feels strange. Nobody has a watch, so even the time eludes them. When they leave their bedrooms, many of them still reach for their smartphones in their pockets, before remembering that all Internet devices are banned here.

With the end of the summer break approaching fast, a growing number of holiday camps in the Brazilian state of São Paulo are making this their rule. Their goal is to encourage teenagers to spend days connected to the people around them, not to their social networks and electronic games.

And parents who can afford it are willing to pay a lot of money for their offspring to undergo this "digital detox" — away from Facebook, Candy Crush and selfies. A one-week holiday camp like this can cost up to 3,800 reais ($1,500), considerably more than the country's average monthly wage, which is barely $1,000.

"If at least we could take selfies in the bathroom, I wouldn't mind so much not having access to the Internet," says 13-year-old Laura. Laura is a self-described digital "addict," but she can see the benefits in living offline for a while. "If I wake up at 7 a.m., I normally stay on my tablet until 11. But here I can do so many things in that time!"

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Geopolitics

The Days After: What Would Happen If Putin Opts For A Tactical Nuclear Strike

The risk of the Kremlin launching a tactical nuclear weapon on Ukraine is small but not impossible. The Western response would itself set off a counter-response, which might contain or spiral to the worst-case scenario.

An anti-nuclear activist impersonates Vladimir Putin at a rally in Berlin.

Yves Bourdillon

-Analysis-

PARISVladimir Putin could “go nuclear” in Ukraine. Yes, this expression, which metaphorically means “taking the extreme, drastic action,” is now literally considered a possibility as well. Cornered and humiliated by a now plausible military defeat, experts say the Kremlin could launch a tactical nuclear bomb on a Ukrainian site in a desperate attempt to turn the tables.

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In any case, this is what Putin — who put Russia's nuclear forces on alert just after the start of the invasion in late February — is aiming to achieve: to terrorize populations in Western countries to push their leaders to let go of Ukraine.

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