Monthly Archives: November 2013

The Toll of Internet Addiction on Families

Blogging, social media, gaming, shopping, TV, movies, virtual worlds. With so much to do and read on the Web, spending hours online isn’t difficult Because of this, internet addiction a real issue of modern life, and there are differences between being online a lot and having an internet usage problem.

Compulsive internet behavior can interfere with daily functioning. Excessive hours spent online lead to sleep loss and neglect of personal hygiene. People may also lie about their online behavior, think about being online during time when they aren’t online, have unsuccessfully tried to curb their internet habits, lose interest in other hobbies and activities he once enjoyed, and withdraw from family and friends.

Internet Addiction Affects the Whole Family

The internet provides endless entertainment, and some young adults and teenagers may see using the internet for social media or gaming as a way to connect with their friends and other people. But as these digital relationships and activities gain importance, they replace face-to-face interaction, and real-life relationships suffer.

Family members can see and feel this withdrawal when they notice a son or daughter neglecting to shower, ignoring homework, no longer caring to play sports, and failing to keep up with household responsibilities. Internet addiction research suggests this can create strain that affects relationships and overall household functioning. What is a parent to do?

Wilderness Therapy for Troubled Teens

Internet addiction can be difficult to deal with because the internet is easily accessible, and people have legitimate reasons to use it on a regular basis. Parents need to realize that internet addiction is not always resolved by controlling time spent online, etc. For troubled adolescents and young adults, the internet can be an escape or outlet, so it is important to discover, learn about, and deal with the underlying reasons as to why they turned to the internet in the first place. A variety of treatment options have been developed for dealing with internet addiction. Though no one option is better than another, parents should consider wilderness or outdoor therapy.

The Pacific Quest Wilderness Therapy Program can help troubled teens dealing with a variety of issues. For those with an internet addiction, Pacific Quest’s home in Hawaii gets them away from the source of their addiction – computers, smartphones, gaming systems – and puts them in an environment that provides whole-person wellness. More than a place that focuses on outdoor activity, Pacific Quest is an outdoor therapeutic program that teaches young people life skills along with providing mental and emotional healing. Because there are often underlying issues that lead to internet addiction, individual and group therapy help students identify the sources of their problem and talk about their feelings. Making lifestyle changes is not easy, but students learn how nutrition, sleep, and exercise are all part of living a balanced life. And when internet addiction is an issue, it is important to keep active in non-internet activities.

How Families Can Heal and Help

As with substance addiction, families that have members dealing with behavior addiction need support in their own way. Parents and siblings need to be able to express their own feelings and frustrations, learn how to deal with the situation, and get advice for how to help their family member get better. Family therapists and addiction support groups can offer much needed support and guidance.

Pacific Quest offers some therapy service and support for families. Parents can discuss their personal concerns, learn and develop new parenting skills and strategies, and learn how set boundaries and expectations. Siblings also play an important role, so Pacific Quest doctors and therapists are committed to involving them when possible and helping them manage their own concerns and feelings. Pacific Quest strives to give students the tools for long-term wellness, and that kind of sustainable growth and change occurs when families are involved and are a part of the treatment process.

Disconnected in the Internet Age

Recently a video has been circulating on the Internet that offers food for thought about modern life with the internet, computers, and smartphones.  As a young woman goes through her day, she never has a cell phone, but her boyfriend looks at his before they have even gotten out of bed. A lunch-time conversation with friends dies as each person but her ends up staring at a smartphone.

Before the constant digital connectivity, people gave their attention to the moment – to the activity and people in front of them. No one thought he was others because he wasn’t at home to answer his phone. Cameras were a separate device; no one took pictures of her lunch – then dinner, coffee, nails, and new shoes – and shared it with the world. Now we have constant distraction that we think keeps us in touch. Of course, people can argue that nothing has really changed, and that we still connect with those around us.

But is it really connecting when we look at our phones to check texts, Fantasy sports scores, Facebook, or retweet the latest gossip while a friend is talking to us…only to realize you need that person to repeat half her story because you tuned out?

What if we turned our phones and computers off or restricted our use?

“I can’t leave my phone at home or put it aside,” we say. “What if someone needs me? I feel disconnected without it.”

The irony is that we are probably more disconnected than ever – from life, our families, friends, and in some ways even reality. The video is a microcosm of society giving an outside-looking-in perspective on our internet-addicted habits.

The Internet Addiction Age

It’s nearly culturally accepted that cell phones are part of both social and private moments. No one thinks twice about logging on to a computer just after getting home. But, maybe that isn’t OK. Maybe we need to take a step back and realize just what it all looks like and means – the unintended consequences and repercussions.

Children copy adults’ habits. They see us using our computers and phones constantly. How many of us have seen a baby playing with a parent’s phone? Some even know how to use smartphones already or can operate an iPad. Parents use them as a means to get kids to behave when out at dinner. Habits are not created over night; they are, by definition, done repeatedly over time. Eventually people don’t even think about what they’re doing, and this loss of awareness – on all of our parts – is creating this societal norm of disconnect. Some people get so lost in this technology and the Web they can develop an internet addiction.

When Your Teen is Dealing with Internet Addiction

Internet addiction can be the result of underlying issues. Troubled teens struggling with identity, acceptance, and loneliness can turn to the internet as a source of comfort. Through virtual worlds and online gaming, they feel connected to other people or find “friends” through social media. Online personas, relationships, and activities replace “real-life” ones, and internet addicted adolescents and young adults withdraw from friends, family, and even the things they once enjoyed doing.

The internet has a dark side. While social media can make it easier to connect to others, it has been used by both adults and teens to bully others. Instead of finding acceptance and friends, these situations can cause anxiety, depression, and fear in young people, who may often choose to not tell parents what is happening.

Wilderness therapy for troubled teens can offer a means to get away from the source of their addiction, which is important because they need to learn to keep active with non-internet activities.  Many young people today do not remember a world without computers, cell phones, and the Internet. Therefore, it may be more important to help them develop healthy computer and internet usage habits early because excessive use can have emotional, mental, and physical health effects. Pacific Quest’s wilderness therapy program incorporates healthy living, structured activity, and adventure with traditional individual and group therapy to help troubled adolescents and young adults developed balanced lives. And at Pacific Quest, learning to be part of a community and truly connecting with others are part of the process.

Internet Addiction: Females & Their Relationship with Mobile Technology

There is no escaping the force that is mobile technology. It is here to stay. And depending on which side of the fence you are on, it is either good or bad – or, perhaps, a bit of both.

We live in an information age. With the aid of computers, smartphones, and internet access, we can have answers at our fingertips within seconds. Sometimes we ask silly questions, and sometimes we search for truly important information – directions, or what to do in times of need. Internet Addiction Females

On one side is the argument that mobile technology is empowering, especially for women, because of its connection to the Internet and thus the Web’s wealth of information. For all of us with access to mobile phones, there are still many who do not, especially those in lower- and middle-income countries. But over the last decade, mobile technology has been quickly expanding in those countries, giving people access to information they never would have had –an important development for those living in remote areas and where infrastructure is lacking. Historically, women and girls have been a marginalized group and have been more affected than men by lack of information. In still-developing countries, cell phones give women and girls the ability to call – or do an internet search – to access important, even life-saving information. Surveys and studies show other benefits for these women as well, such as increased economic and professional opportunities, and a greater sense of independence.

Because modern life seems to necessitate owning a cell or smart phone, access to information is still important in higher-income countries. However, in places like the US, people in general seem to have a changing and different relationship with their phones, allowing others to argue the bad side of mobile technology. Interesting aspects about this relationship were unveiled in a study conducted by Time Inc. in conjunction with a marketing firm focused on women and their relationship with their mobile phones. Firstly, 60% of women surveyed (versus 43% of men) said that their cell phones are the most important devices in their lives. Seventy-eight percent said their phones are the first thing they look at in the morning, and phones account for much their daily free-time activity (texting, viewing social media, and shopping). Nearly all respondents said their phones are with them wherever they go, and 87% can’t imagine their lives without a cell phone. When also considering that women reported their phones as being a source of emotional pleasure, how can one see cell and smart phones as empowering?

Finding a Balance – Internet Addiction

It is a grey world. Anything can be bad for us if left unmonitored – even Internet and mobile technologies. Behavioral addictions form when a person develops a strong compulsion to continue doing something because of some real or perceived reward. Because that person eventually cannot voluntarily disengage from the activity, harmful consequences occur – such as losses that are financial (as in compulsive gambling), personal (disintegrating relationships), or physical (insomnia, weight gain).

Now that we see children with their own mobile phones, what habits are they developing? Are they developing an emotional dependency on their phones? Some people see constant texting and other mobile phone activities that young people engage in as having the conditions for behavioral addiction. And considering how emotionally attached people can become to their cell phones – women seemingly more so than men, this can be a cause for concern.

If a young person – female or male – has developed an internet addiction, getting outside help may be necessary. Teens and young adults seek the internet as a distraction or an outlet for a variety of reasons. In order to treat internet addiction, it is important to discover the underlying causes that led them to overuse it. Programs such as the wilderness therapy developed at Pacific Quest in Hawaii can be incredibly beneficial in numerous ways. Using a Sustainable Growth Model, students learn life skills as well as experience healing all in an environment removed from the addiction source. It is all about finding balance to live the best life possible.