Hikikomori - Our Lost Generation in the Digital Era

Written by Dr. Andrew Doan & Brooke Strickland on .

In Japan, there are more than one million men and boys, referred to as the hikikomori, who live their lives in complete recluse. Some hide in their small bedrooms for months and years at a time, refusing to leave the safety of their bedrooms. In the book, Shutting Out the Sun: How Japan Created Its Own Lost Generation, author Michael Zielenziger describes a growing Japanese sub-culture who favor isolation and indulgence on media, technology, and video games:

“These recluses [the hikikomori] hide in their homes for months or years at a time, refusing to leave the protective walls of their bedrooms. They are as frightened as small children abandoned in a dark forest. Some spend their days playing video games. A few – an estimated 10 percent – surf the Internet. Many just pace, read books, or drink beer and shochu, a Japanese form of vodka. Others do nothing for weeks at a time. Unable to work, attend school, or interact with outsiders, they cannot latch onto the well-oiled conveyor belt that carries young boys from preschool through college, then deposits them directly into a workplace- a system that makes Japan seem orderly and purposeful to outsiders, even as it has begun to break down.”

We encourage families and parents to wake up and take action to avoid breeding a generation of vidiots who live like the hikikmori, reclusive from the real world. Teach kids and young adults about the responsible use of technology. It’s clear that using technology and video games as digital pacifiers will be harmful, mentally and physically. Being interested, active, and involved in the lives of your kids, teenagers, and spouses are vital to keeping them on the right path, away from addiction. Spending real, face-to-face time communicating and enjoying the company of loved ones teaches us to be more human, too.


1. Zielenziger, Michael. Shutting Out the Sun: How Japan Created Its Own Lost Generation. Nan A. Talese. 2006.