Internet, Technology Creating Barriers between People

“A picture is worth a thousand words.”

This quote is repeated for a reason. Words definitely have power, but a single image can succinctly capture a moment, situation, a scene – or even emotions.

Technology and the internet have made talking and writing each other so much easier when one considers every day typical communications as well as social media posts and comments, blogs, text messages, and emails. However, all this “talking” is somehow leading to a society in which people truly connect less than before technology took over.

It’s a situation that is difficult to explain with words. How can people be connected or interacting yet be — well, detached?

As a final project, student created a short animation called “Avoidance” in an attempt to illustrate this concept and tell the story of how technology can get in the way of truly being and interacting with another person – something that seems tough to do with words. She didn’t even include dialogue. Just images of people going throughout their day, interacting with their gadgets and essentially ignoring each other.

Avoidance from erica rot on Vimeo.

How do you feel about the animation? Have you experienced this detachment or avoidance in your own life? Would you say this aptly depicts aspects of society’s addiction to the internet, video games, smartphones, and technology in general?

Why is any of this important?

Whether people realize it or not technology is having an effect on them, so much so that some people may have an internet addiction. Research into this new and growing problem shows that internet addiction has physical, mental and emotional effects. These include “rewiring” brains, causing feelings of anxiety when not online, and ignoring responsibilities – and relationships. Internet addiction can cause someone to withdraw from friends and family.

Excessive internet and technology use does not necessarily equate to internet addiction. However, people need to recognize how their constant use changes the dynamics of relationships with others and has a variety of affects. People can end up feeling alone even when in the same room with another person.

Adolescents are possibly open to more harm because mental, emotional, and physical developments are at their height during the teen years and continue into their 20s. They should be learning healthy socialization skills, etc., but this, other life skills and learning processes are affected by constant connection to technology, the internet, smartphones, video games, etc.

When Help Is Needed: Wilderness Therapy

As said, internet and technology overuse is only one aspect of internet addiction, but should it happen, more than will power to overcome a bad habit might be called for. Internet addiction can be accompanied by other issues, such as depression or low self-esteem. It’s a complex situation that requires attention to each issue making finding a program that’s able to do so very important. Programs have been set up to address internet addiction specifically, but wilderness therapy has been helpful as well.

Pacific Quest, a holistic wilderness therapy program in Hawaii, has been able to help those adolescents and young adults feeling depressed, anxious, and trapped by their internet, video game, and tech addictions.

Pacific Quest is a well-rounded program that aims to empower students by teaching them life skills, healthy habits, and ways to cope with their issues and everyday pressures, such as the internet. It’s about learning to live a healthy, balanced life.

Parent's Guide to Internet Addiction & Overuse

College Transition and Internet Addiction

The internet has overtaken college campuses as it has the workplace. College students use it for research, communication with classmates and professors, and other educational activities as well as being a means of entertainment. When considering the transition from home atmosphere to new independence along with several other factors, it’s possible for college to cultivate internet addiction in young adults.

The Freshman 10 and Other Worries

These days it’s not just putting on 10 pounds that has become a worry for college freshman. There’s a wide assortment of things that could cause concern as they transition to a new way of life.

When in college, young people’s time isn’t as structured. Classes account for twelve to sixteen hours per week, and the rest of that time is students’ own to read, study, hang out with friends, join clubs, or explore the new environment outside their campus walls. Another possibility is they forgo all of those other activities and concentrate on a means to escape any new pressures: the internet. Freedom from parental control is a teen’s dream, but subsequent transitional issues could lead to issues like internet addiction.

Escapism is part of the allure of internet, so it makes sense that college students would be susceptible to it. College is a major change, and some students may find themselves struggling and with a desire to escape college stressors. There are pressures for making top grades, fulfilling parental expectations, and facing fierce competition for good jobs upon graduation . Socially, they may find it difficult to find and make new friends, especially if they chose to go to a college far from home and thus won’t run into people they already know. They can turn to the internet to hide from difficulties and feelings of fear, anxiety, or depression falling into things like online gaming, which is a popular activity among young people. Video games are engaging virtual worlds that keep them both entertained and distracted but also offer a sense of belonging because online gaming can provide a sense of friendship with other gamers.

Internet over-use poses multiple problems. It’s well established that using the Internet too much can lead to a sedentary lifestyle and a decline in physical fitness that can result in additional weight gain, all of which have serious health implications. Many suffer with carpal tunnel syndrome, eye strain, and headaches. Additionally, researchers have found that the light from computer screens may affect circadian rhythms, creating a risk factor for sleep deprivation and insomnia, which can lead to depression.

Signs of Possible Internet Addiction

Internet addiction is characterized by more than excessive internet use. There’s also lack of sleep or excessive fatigue, declining grades, not caring about relationships with friends or significant others, withdrawing from previously enjoyed campus social activities and events, general apathy, edginess, or irritability when NOT on the Internet, lying about how much time they spend online and their activities, and rationalizing that what they learn on the Internet is superior to their classes. Some students may try to quit on their own if threatened with possible expulsion because of poor grades, but as the internet is a necessary tool to complete homework, they can easy slip right back into the same addictive patterns. In the worst case scenario, students may not realize the problem until consequences worsen, such as being kicked out of college.

Tackling College Struggles & Internet Addiction

Tackling internet or tech overuse requires several changes and a lot of self-discipline. As the situation worsens and becomes more of an addiction, additional help and support may be required.

▪     Lifestyle changes. It is often difficult for people suffering from a psychological issue to make lifestyle changes on their own. However, a healthy diet, a good sleep schedule, and regular exercise can go a long way towards facilitating recovery. Staying active in non-Internet activities is also important.

▪     Individual therapy. There are several models of therapy, such as psychotherapy and cognitive-behavioral therapy. The best choice is usually up to a person’s preferences, but cognitive-behavioral therapy is a popular approach for Internet addiction.

▪     Group therapy. Group therapy provides a safe, supportive space for a group of people suffering from similar issues to share their struggles and journey with others who can empathize and offer insight from their own experiences.

▪     In-patient treatment. In-patient treatment provides a high level of support and treatment with access to on-site doctors and the support of other patients. It is often used when out-patient methods are not effective because it is an opportunity to work through issues in a place that separates people from the source of their struggles. For internet addiction, that can be incredibly helpful since computers and the internet are a regular aspect of modern life.

▪     Wilderness therapy. Similar to in-patient treatment in that these programs are Pacific Quest Group Therapytime spent away from trouble sources, wilderness therapy uses nature to spur change and can place a bigger focus on whole-body wellness and more tangible accomplishments. Many people turn to wilderness therapy for the enriching environment it provides.

Pacific Quest wilderness therapy for adolescents and young adult in Hawaii is one such program. “At Pacific Quest, we have seen great success treating internet addiction using our Sustainable Growth™ model, which focuses on the mind-body connection, the importance of nature, and the individual’s place within the community, as well as the essential aspects of clinical care.”

Pacific Quest incorporates healthy living, a high level of clinical care with both individual and group therapy time, horticulture therapy, and other aspects that create and reinforce well-being in order to help young people through their addictions and behavior issues. It’s a complete program that can address internet addiction as well as any underlying issues.

If you’d like to learn more about internet addiction and how Pacific Quest’s wilderness therapy program can help, please contact us at 808-937-5806.


We are frequently discussing the topic of Internet addiction on our Family Resource Blog.

Parent's Guide to Internet Addiction & Overuse

The Latest Smartphone App Craze Causing Feelings of Addiction

Smartphones are as much a phone as they are mini computers and hand-held gaming devices. It’s likely most smartphones owners have downloaded and played at least one game – perhaps even getting sucked into one of the app crazes that’s happened in the last few years.

Words with Friends
Angry Birds
Draw Something
Candy Crush

Now add Kim Kardashian: Hollywood to the list.

Developed around her life, the game is about figuratively keeping up with the Kardashians by climbing the celeb social ladder. As described by Yahoo Tech, “… [to stay] within the Kardashians’ social circle requires constant attention to wardrobe, social standing, romantic life, media presence, and accumulation of wealth. The game is structured to keep [players] furiously tapping [their] screen (and into [their] bank account) in order to earn virtual cash, energy, and special Kardashian branded K stars that are used to “charm” people, to help [them] rise from E-lister to A-lister (just like Kim!).”

It sounds silly, but players of all ages are quickly getting sucked in leaving them feeling addicted. Released only last month, it has over 5 million downloads. While it’s free to get, in-app purchases are costing players a lot. Within 5 days of its release, the game’s developer earned over $1.6 million, which shows just how much people are spending – purposely, accidentally, and perhaps unknowingly – just to get ahead in the game. Parents are finding their children in distress, and adults are questioning themselves.

How Is This Rapid Game Addiction Possible?

Self-control is something more easily talked about than done, and clever design and interest can be enough for people to put self-control – and logic – aside. Without realizing it, a seemingly innocuous habit, like playing a simple game, can become more when the right conditions are in place.

A psychologist’s breakdown of the Hollywood app reveals that everything from the graphics, colors, activity type, and structure lures players in keeping them engaged. Levels are initially easy, so progress is quick. Players get instant gratification from it and from the virtual cash received by constantly tapping the screen. Brains are wired to like that which gives satisfaction. The game also makes players wait to continue for resources to replenish, which is where those in-app purchases factor in. People don’t want to wait for things, so they make a purchase or two. As people invest more time into a game, the more difficult it is to quit. The result? Possible internet and game addiction.

Addressing Internet and Smartphone Addiction

If adults are getting lost in smartphone games, then young people are just as susceptible – if not more so in part due to their still-developing minds. Also, today’s celebrity-obsessed culture leaves many wanting “to get rich and famous,” and reality TV makes it seem possible. Thus, much about Kim and her family appeals to a young audience, and those aspects appear in the game.

What happens when things go too far? Depending on the person, a weekend detox can be enough. However, others may need more. Games offer an escape, which is as aspect of any addiction. Some adolescents or young adults with a video game or internet addiction may need to address underlying issues that may be fueling it.

Pacific Quest wilderness therapy excursion

Wilderness therapy, like Pacific Quest, can be the solution for addressing the variousaspects of these addictions. Wilderness therapy offers young people an environment where they can break away from technology, be involved in different activities that don’t require a smartphone or computer – and learn to enjoy them, and also get the therapeutic help to get them back on track. They obtain understanding in individual and group therapy and learn life skills that enable them to better cope with the technological temptations back home. The holistic approach at Pacific Quest wilderness therapy tries to offer a more complete perspective on how negative habits have mental, emotional, and physical consequences. With time at Pacific Quest wilderness therapy, internet- or game-addicted teens can find hope of a more balanced life.

Parent's Guide to Internet Addiction & Overuse

Do You Know the Symptoms of Teenage Internet Addiction?

The Internet is a vital part of many different industries, as well as to our everyday lives. However, the Internet can also be harmful. Internet addiction is a growing concern, and teenage Internet addiction has become more and more widespread.

Perhaps you have a teenage child, and you’ve been suspecting that he or she is showing signs of teenage Internet addiction. Here at Pacific Quest, we believe that Internet addictions are serious because of the potential consequences. It’s important to identify them as soon as possible so you can get your teen the help that he or she needs.

To help, we’ve compiled a list of symptoms of teenagers who are struggling with some sort of issue, like internet addiction, as well as some information on how wilderness therapy can provide your son or daughter with healing from these addictive behaviors.

Growing Tolerance or Obsession

Has your teen demonstrated a growing tolerance level or an obsession with the Internet? Just like any addiction, an Internet addiction is recognized by a need for the next “high.” It’s similar to the way that alcoholics continue to increase their alcohol intake, or the way that illegal drug users frequently move on to more dangerous drugs. When a half an hour spent online no longer produces the desired physical and mental effects, an addicted teen will continuously increase their Internet time.

Frustration or Anger

For someone who suffers from an Internet addiction, not being able to get your next “fix” often results in frustration. However, over time and depending on how intense the addiction is, this frustration can escalate to anger or even violence. Perhaps you have observed this behavior in your teen whenever you’ve planned a family activity that would pull him or her away from the Internet for a period of time.


Addiction is often a lonely experience. The main reason for this is because the addiction – whether it’s alcohol, drugs or the Internet – becomes more important to the addict than anything. Have you noticed your child dropping out of activities at school, or spending more time away from friends and family in order to spend time online?


It is impossible for an addict to balance his or her life for very long. Eventually, there will be negative repercussions for the addictive behavior. You might notice your teen’s grades slipping, or he or she might fall asleep in class. If you’ve tried grounding your child for these behaviors, it’s likely that your teen will go to great lengths to find some way to be online. When confronted, most teens deny that they’ve broken the rules, or they come up with a story to cover up their deception.

Wilderness Therapy – Helping Teens Find Balance

Pacific Quest wilderness group therapy

Pacific Quest’s wilderness therapy is unlike any other teenage therapeutic program. Your child will not only learn to break the chains of Internet addiction, but he or she will also re-learn how valuable honest, real-life relationships truly are. By being separated from the
addiction, your teen will learn to identify it for what it really is, while also cultivating an understanding for how harmful it was.

The wilderness therapy program at Pacific Quest is more than just another type of therapy. It is a life-changing journey of self-discovery that will produce amazing results in your teen. Not only will your child learn to embrace the necessary tools to make better decisions, but he or she will gain the understanding and knowledge that’s required to carry this new-found wisdom into adulthood as well.

If you would like more information about Pacific Quest, we would love to talk with you. Please contact us today.

Parent's Guide to Internet Addiction & Overuse

Importance of Stopping Video Game Addiction Early

Video game addiction is a unique phenomenon of the new millennium in part because of how new computer and internet technology still is. It’s changed how we work and even how we play – whether an adult or child.

Video games as we know them were introduced in the 1970s and ‘80s and were initially in arcades. They were relatively simple for a while, and any other players were sitting right next to you – even if you eventually got Pong at home. Obviously much has advanced. Game concepts are much more involved. With the aid of the internet, a person can be playing alone in his room yet be interacting with multiple other people across the world taking part in the same game with a common goal. Yes, children still play outside, but it’s important to be aware of the effects of too much time with technology.

The Draw of Video Games, the Drawback of Addiction

World of Warcraft (WoW) is one of the most enduring and involved video games. Players create online personas – or character – then join with others across the globe to accomplish various quests in WoW’s virtual world. The more they play the more they can develop their characters, gain skills, and are rewarded. Accomplishing quests with other players makes one feel connected and important. Thus, it’s easy to see how quickly one can become absorbed into these virtual worlds trading real-life relationships and experiences for online ones.

In a 2012 NBC news story, a 28-year-old man described the hold WoW had on his life. He first got involved at age 11 and began logging in 16 hours a day by the time he reached his twenties. “Whenever I was on the computer I would feel great,” he described. “I was in this whole other world. I was excited. I was happy for that brief moment, but whenever I’m lying in bed at night, I would always … just think about how that day I hadn’t accomplished anything, about how I wasn’t what I wanted to be in life and that I was really, you know, miserable.”

It’s that type of scenario that differentiates over-use or a casual interest from addiction-like behavior. Personal relationships suffer; other hobbies, responsibilities, and commitments are neglected; players experience emotional highs when they play and lows when logged off. Also studies are showing that technology does have biological effects on us –from changing the ways our brains work to basic health implications. Children caught in this cycle may have more difficulty quitting than adults who face similar issues because they are still in the midst of developing mentally, emotionally, and physically when they begin playing.

Providing Hope for Those with Video Game & Internet Addiction

Getting therapy for a personal struggle that has you feeling down doesn’t necessarily meanthumbs_Excursions - Vista boy you’re depressed, but you realize you need outside help to get you back on track. The same is true of those who overuse technology: getting back on track means learning to balance real life with time online as well as addressing the emotional aspects of their attachment, which could include depression, anxiety, or low self-esteem.

Of course, not every child will develop a video game or internet addiction. But should it be a problem, wilderness therapy like Pacific Quest can be a great resource for adolescents and young adults who need to learn to live without the game and their online friends and need to build new habits. Wilderness therapy gets them away from the source of their issue and in an environment that supports change and growth. They develop real connections with people directly in their lives and reconnect with family and friends back home. The virtual world should never replace the real because one shouldn’t wake up one day to realize life has passed by.

Parent's Guide to Internet Addiction & Overuse

Internet Addiction: More than Overusing the Online World

Man at computer crop

Much of the power wielded by addiction comes from the seemingly innocuous nature of whatever you’re using or doing. Because of the ubiquity of cyberspace in our everyday lives, most of us expect to use the internet for a sizable portion of the day – both for work and for play. Oftentimes, this use is quite productive as well as necessary.

The above reality, however, can easily start you or someone you love on the road to internet addiction. If you have certain underlying issues, this propensity is highlighted and puts you at greater risk for compulsive internet use. If you find yourself using the internet to the detriment of other things in your life, then the time being spent is unproductive and you may need help.

Common Misuses of the Internet

It’s important not to think of internet addiction as mere “overuse.” For example, if you school work online, then there are times when you need to be on almost nonstop during a project period. The problem arises when internet use becomes compulsive, to the detriment of other daily activities. Consider a handful of common progenitors of internet misuse:

  1. Online Dating and Social Media Interaction: the presence of a plethora of social networking sites can contribute to gross overuse of cyberspace. If you find yourself compulsively checking Facebook status updates every few minutes throughout the day, and constantly making alterations to your social media profiles, then it may be time to step back and evaluate the time you’re spending with virtual friends versus the time you’re spending with real-life friends.
  2. Cybersex Compulsion: this is one of the biggest problems facing people online. Studies show that immersion in online fantasy role-playing games, chat rooms and other forms of adult entertainment have a deleterious effect on how you deal with a partner outside of the virtual, idealized world. Self-evaluations can be difficult here, and if you suspect that you or someone close to you is suffering from this addiction, there is help available – without commitment.
  3. Dating and social media aren’t the only forms of internet addiction; if you’re constantly perusing e-commerce sites like Amazon and eBay, then an evaluation might be in order as you notice your finances start to take unsustainable hits. Gambling, online slots – even stock-trading – can be signs you’re not in control.
  4. Gaming: Although this refers mostly to teenagers, a sizable portion of the adult population is adversely affected by an online compulsion for gaming. With so many fantastic games on the market and many of them requiring a full-investment of time, gaming is an addiction that can creep up surreptitiously as your allotted time goes from a few hours a day to half a day and even more. Playing any game online for 10 hours a day is simply unsustainable (even for an adolescent with fewer responsibilities than most adults) and is a sure sign that help is in order.

Getting the Help You Need with Wilderness Therapy

Pacific Quest wilderness therapy program understands that online addiction is a serious issue that may be a sign of an underlying condition – such as depression, for example. In teenagers and young adults, it can contribute to a lack of social growth and ability to deal with real-world problems. That’s why Pacific Quest places such emphasis on robust outdoor activities and interactive exercises to help you or a loved one regain your social health and sense of life-balance. To learn more about how wilderness therapy has successfully treated adolescents and young adults with internet addiction, please contact us.

Parent's Guide to Internet Addiction & Overuse

The Plight for Girls Addicted to Social Media

Adolescence marks the developmental stage of rapid and intense emotional and physical changes in girls. For these teen girls there is an even increased value placed on peer acceptance and approval and a heightened attention to external influences and social messages about cultural norms. Body image and related self-concept emerge as significant factors associated with health and well being during this developmental phase. Negative correlations have been statistically proven between media usage/addiction and social well being. Video, video games, email, social media, text/instant messages, and phone and video chat all constitute media. The 24/7 nature of social media and Internet addiction places huge pressures on girls, which in turn can lead to significant emotional issues and disorders.

Self-esteem Linked to Appearance

Social media and popular mainstream culture promotes specific images and standards of beauty and attractiveness that contradict good health practices and young girls’ ability to achieve a specific body type or image. It’s uniformly accepted that the U.S. society places great value on looks and exalts images unachievable by most. Unfortunately, the use of social media is not a healthy way for girls to seek acceptance or validation.

It seems that an entire generation of adolescent girls will fail to fulfill their professional potential because they are suffering from low self-esteem about their appearance. Why? Because one in four females aged between 11 and 17 are weighed down by pressure to conform to the ‘ideal notion’ of how they should look. “Whether it presents as a lack of confidence about their ability, their body or their worth, these deep-seated anxieties really hold girls back from achieving their potential.”

Many young girls believe physical appearance is a major part of their self-esteem, and their body image is a major contributor to sense of self. The experience of body dissatisfaction can lead to poor health habits and low self-esteem. These negative feelings may contribute to a higher prevalence of depressive symptoms and lower self-esteem among girls and affect health behaviors associated with poor eating habits, dieting, depression and anxiety, and eating disorders. “According to the National Women’s Resource Center, more than 7 million American women are affected by eating disorders each year, and 1,000 of those will die from complications of anorexia. Up to 80 percent of female college students have admitted to binge eating, a predecessor to bulimia.”

Differentiating Eating Disorders

There’s no single type of eating disorder as habits present themselves in various ways:

  • Anorexia nervosa is self-starvation. Girls with anorexia have an intense fear of body weight, and eat very little even though they are thin.

  • Bulimia nervosa is characterized by cycles of binge eating and purging. Girls with bulimia fear body fat although their weight may be normal.

  • Binge eating disorder means eating large amounts of food in a short period of time without being able to stop when full. Bingeing is often accompanied by feeling out of control and followed by guilt or depression.
  • Disordered eating refers to troublesome eating behaviors, such as restrictive dieting, binging, or purging, which occur less frequently or are less severe than those required to meet the full criteria for an eating disorder diagnosis.

Wilderness Therapy Can Help

The wilderness therapy program at Pacific Quest offers a unique whole-person, nature-based model for healing from the effects of the various addictions associated with today’s social media surge. Pacific Quest uses the healing power of nature and practices complete wellness, with qualified staff working together on every aspect. One reason Pacific Quest works is because it has an individualized, comprehensive and neuro-developmentally informed approach: Everyone is different. At Pacific Quest we can design strategies that reach our students and move them through a deep and lasting process of change.

Pacific Quest wilderness therapy girlsWe are passionate about our social mission and want to continue to help young girls and women develop a positive relationship with their bodies. Students have discovered the healing powers of horticulture therapy (HT), a formal practice involving the use of plants, the garden and horticultural activities to “promote well-being for its participant.” The benefits of horticulture therapy can take many forms, from physical and cognitive to spiritual and emotional. The garden uses horticultural principles to teach clients about food security, provide skills training, and nurture self-confidence and healthy leisure activities. The use of sustainable growth, horticultural therapy and gardening, focus on health and wellness, and peer culture, complement the individual treatment plan providing the foundation for developing personal awareness and cultivating tools for personal development teens and adolescents with eating disorders.

In many cases, cognitive-behavioral psychotherapy techniques are very effective in addressing Internet addiction issues being faced by our students. This approach helps the teenagers examine their anxiety, anticipate situations in which it is likely to occur, and understand its effects. This can also help them recognize the exaggerated nature of their fears and develop a corrective approach to the problem. They learn to replace negative and unproductive thought patterns with more realistic and useful ones.  Treatment often involves facing one’s fears as part of the pathway to recovery. Interpersonal therapy and problem-solving therapy are also effective.

Contact Pacific Quest to find out more about our dynamic medium for therapeutic growth and whole person wellness.

Isolation: Side of Effects of Technology & Internet Addiction

One positive aspects of modern technology is how easily it enables us to connect with other people – whether it’s texting or playing an Xbox game with someone in Tokyo. In some ways, we’ve never been more social.

However this incredible power does have a down side: isolation. It seems contradictory, but true socialization has taken a toll. Something about talking to another person face-to-face is less natural to us. We’d rather text something than talk, and it’s not uncommon to see a group of people together but hardly looking at each other because they’re each using their smartphones.

We think we’re socializing, but in many ways, it all may be separating us from the real interaction we crave leading to feelings of isolation. Video games illustrate this problem well.

Connected to the Computer, Disconnected from the Real World

Today’s video games, like World of Warcraft, Final Fantasy, and Call of Duty, testify to technology’s advancement. Many are incredibly vivid, complex virtual worlds that draw millions of people into playing. They’re highly interactive with vast environments populated by a variety of characters with specific backgrounds, abilities, and duties from which players choose. Players can interact with other players by teaming up their characters to go on quests or into battles together. They communicate via headsets, which is necessary in order to strategize and accomplish a common goal. There is much to explore and do in these games even if a player is on his own, and getting lost and caught up in all of it can be easy. However, hours or days are easily lost, too, especially as these games are designed for long-term play.Pacific Quest wilderness therapy

“Who cares?” you say. These gamers are still interacting. What’s really lost if they’re forming connection that happen to be through a game? The problem is that time online is time away from family and friends who aren’t a county, state, or continent away. It’s time not spent productively attending to professional and personal responsibilities. These things cannot be taken for granted and be expected to be there waiting when you’re ready to step away from the computer. But as the video game takes on importance, little else matters.

Real relationships are hard to come by (think about how many people you consider a confidant) because they take time to build, and virtual friendships can’t truly replace them. People can feel isolated when they’re not online because they may have let real relationships crumble or realize they’ve not accomplished all they’ve wanted due to their online activity.

Wilderness Therapy for Video Game & Internet Addiction

Excessive internet use or game play carries with it a variety of issues, and feeling isolated is only one of them. If someone has few friends and feels alone, online activities and “friends” can fill a void. In this case, he may be additionally dealing with depression, anxiety, or social issues. For others depression may settle in later when they’ve realized what gaming has cost them – relationships, money, a job.

It takes time to unravel the issues behind video game and internet addiction, but wilderness therapy has been an invaluable resource for adolescents and young adults struggling with them. Pacific Quest wilderness therapy program uses a holistic, clinical approach, which means that students get individual and group therapy to tackle their specific issues and also learn how to take care of themselves. Part of that includes learning to be part of their immediate community through activities like organic gardening without technology to distract them. They learn to cultivate deep, real connections unlike the superficial ones aided by technology.

Problems shouldn’t need to escalate to the point of addiction to make us realize that we’re missing out on the vivid world around us.

Parent's Guide to Internet Addiction & Overuse

Video Game Addiction: View From A Gamer’s Perspective

Picture this: your teenager sitting on the couch, mindlessly devouring junk food and soda, eyes glazed from hours of playing video games, day after day for the summer months. Summer is the highlight of the year for adolescents – no responsibilities and the taste of independence. All of the structure and scheduling that occurs during the school year is gone. With less structure and adult supervision, the summer is ripe with opportunities for teens to fall into bad habits, which can become larger issues like video game addiction.

A Teenage Gamer’s Perspective on Video Game Addiction

For 16-year-old Eli, gaming addiction, though he’s not comfortable with that term, is very real. Becoming aware of increasingly obsessive thoughts and behavior, understanding their consequences, and accepting that something has to change isn’t easy – even for an adult. Eli was forced to become aware of his issue after spending 14 hours straight playing his game of choice League of Legends.

Eli has been playing for almost a year along with several friends who got him into it. The initial difficulty required a lot of effort to get into the game, but it’s admittedly a growing priority in his life. Eli said, “[I’ve] wanted to play rather than go out to dinner. When I was swimming [on a competitive swim team], I was thinking about playing the game when I got home.”  When asked if he’s ever thought, “Hmmm, I should be doing [blank], but I’d rather play the game,” he responded with an unequivocal, “Yes.”

“It’s probably a bad use of time… it’s difficult to slow down”, confessed Eli.

With over 108 characters – or champions – to choose from, League of Legends uses teamwork, coordination and a lot of planning. Eli says he chooses to play certain champions because they are more powerful than others – thus more fun to play – and, “because it’s satisfying to win!”

Needing at least an hour to play the game and dealing with potential “conflicts,” as Eli calls them – i.e. if you perform badly other players bully or get angry, this game potentially hits the triggers of many a human emotion and character flaw. For example, if you are “AFK” (away from keyboard) thus leaving the game, there are penalties, and you may not be allowed to play in the future. Possible exclusion and angering fellow players creates incentive to continue playing.

As a consequence of his excessive gaming, his dad finally took away Eli’s phone after several previous empty threats. Though Eli got it back shortly thereafter, the message was received. Without going cold turkey, his dad has now limited the amount of time Eli is alone with too much downtime to play video games. Now Eli goes with his twin brother to their dad’s house some nights to read until they fall asleep. Not only is Eli’s video game addiction being curbed, but they get more quality family time.

Eli said, “It’s up to the parents [to monitor video game use]. They think we don’t know any better.” There is truth in that young people may not know better; teens becoming hooked on video games may not recognize their growing compulsion to play because the addiction grows gradually.

Choosing Pacific Quest Wilderness Therapy for Video Game Addiction

Each day is a chance to practice good parenting skills. Parents have the ability to pull their teens out of a toxic situation when they’re beginning to head down the wrong path. But should outside help be necessary, placing troubled adolescents or young adults with video game or internet addiction in an environment like Pacific Quest wilderness therapy can be incredibly beneficial. Students have a chance to think about their life’s direction while receiving therapeutic support as they learn and grow.

Because teenagers’ brains are still developing, adolescence is an ideal time for outdoor Wilderness therapy rewardstherapy. Destructive thought and behavior patterns can still be modified, mental health issues can be managed, and behavioral issues can be staved off by getting treatment as early as possible. When asked Eli what he thought about outdoor therapy programs like the one at Pacific Quest, he emphatically said, “It’s a good idea. It actually sounds much more fun than playing the game!” While wilderness therapy is about more than providing fun, Pacific Quest’s program is engaging in ways that video games can never be. With horticulture therapy, gardening activities require team work, planning, and responsibility in order to be successful. They also provide tangible rewards unlike the inconsequential points earned in video games. Instead of wasting away in front of the TV or computer, adolescents experience the outdoors and life, eat healthfully, and are active participants in life and the community.

Pacific Quest also helps families when necessary. For adolescents’ change to be sustainable, families also need an opportunity to express their feelings, ask questions, and receive help. Pacific Quest therapists can work with parents on how to develop parenting skills, communication skills, and ways to support their teen.

Technology is part of our daily lives, so it’s important to establish good tech habits early in order to live a balanced, healthy life.

A Mom’s Contract with her Teenage Son: iPhone and Life Lessons

Smartphones are compact computers. With them owners can contact anyone at any time through calling, texting, and private messaging or posting on social media. They enable online search just as any other computer. That is a lot of power at someone’s fingertips, especially for an adolescent who’s beginning to test the limits of growing independence.

Perhaps it was with that in mind that a mom gave her then 13-year-old son a new iPhone but also gave him a contract, a set of rules to follow if he wanted to keep it. This story may be from 2012, but it’s still a good illustration of so many things – internet addiction, smartphone use, responsibility, common sense, social etiquette, and life lessons.

In 18 points, the mother succinctly addresses everything about having access to such a powerful piece of technology beginning with who actually own the phone (she does).

Adolescents, the Internet, & Smartphones

Cyber-bullying, pornography addiction, internet addiction. It’s quite a varied list, but each has been aided by the internet and smartphones just as much as face-to-face interaction and communications have been hampered.

7. Do not involve yourself in conversations that are hurtful to others. Be a good friend first or stay the hell out of the crossfire.
9. …Censor yourself.”

It seems like common sense to not text things you wouldn’t normally say in front of that person or someone’s parents. However, that’s exactly what people do – adults and teens alike. This hits right at one of the issues of the internet: the power of anonymity. Even if using your own account, you feel much more empowered to say things to someone else because distance creates an invisible wall that “protects” you. So-called Twitter wars ensue, or comment threads quickly deteriorate as people “trash” or pick on each other.

She also cautions against sending certain private photos. “12. Cyberspace is vast and more powerful than you.”

“14. Leave your phone home sometimes… It is not alive or an extension of you. Learn to live without it. Be bigger and more powerful than…fear of missing out.”

A sign of internet addiction is emotional attachment to technology. Adolescents today have no reference for daily life without a cell phone, so it’s about actively learning to be without it. With internet addiction, people also lose touch with the people and activity around them. Saying, “[#13] Don’t take a zillion pictures and videos… Live your experiences,” this mom takes a shot at social media and the obsession surrounding it.  While she doesn’t mention online gaming, it still fits; the virtual world will never replace reality. “17. Keep your eyes up. See the world happening around you.”

Wilderness Therapy: When the Internet Takes Over

Most people rely on and enjoy technology. That’s OK. For some, the internet becomes a crutch or comfort laying the groundwork for addiction. Research indicates internet addiction is the result of other factors, such as depression. To overcome the grasp of technology, the underlying issues must be resolved. Some adolescents or young adults may find the best help comes through a wilderness therapy program like Pacific Quest.

Pacific Quest’s therapeutic model is based on personalized clinical care with a holistic approach. Each student’s needs are assessed then addressed during individual and topic-specific group therapy time. The underlying issues for their internet addiction can be discovered, discussed, and worked on to be resolved. Pacific Quest wilderness therapy also includes horticulture therapy, which is a tool for getting students active and learning life skills like goal-setting in a calming community setting. Just as with that teenager’s mom, Pacific Quest’s hope is that they provide lessons and skills that can be carried forward into life beyond the program, so students can be successful for years to come.

Parent's Guide to Internet Addiction & Overuse