Socialization in the Age of the Internet

Losing Our Chance to Learn to Be a Friend

One of the signs of internet addiction is withdrawal from friends and family and even from hobbies and activities that a person once enjoyed.

But why is this?

After all, social media and instant messaging, etc., seem to be the main ways teens and young adults stay in touch with friends…right?? Well, having hundreds of “friends” online does not equal hundreds of true friendships. The result: superficial relationships. When combined with the popularity of texting, it means children and adolescents are losing out on face-to-face interactions and its benefits.Outdoor therapy program_ Wilderness program for adolescents_Troubled teens_Outdoor therapy_Wilderness program for young adults

As kids grow and develop, they learn how to socialize – how to make friends, how to be a friend, how to interact with others of different ages, how to behave in social situations. This is truly a skill, which should not be taken for granted. Research has shown that adults are affected by the constant connectivity from computers and smartphones. The brain can literally be re-wired, which seems to be having a negative effect on people’s ability to make and maintain deep relationships. If adults are experiencing these kinds of issues, then the effect on adolescents and teens may be more pronounced.

In this landscape, an adolescent trying to make friends yet may not have true friendships and figure out who he is may turn to the internet to find “friends” and fill emotional voids.

Internet Addiction in Adolescents and Young Adults

Internet addiction is more than an issue of excessive internet use. Often times, underlying issues lead people to use the internet or video games as a source of comfort. For example, troubled teens struggling with relationships in real life may turn to the internet. Social media, video games, and virtual worlds give the illusion that they are truly interacting with others.

As online activities and “relationships” gain more importance, real relationships with family and friends fall by the way side. Internet-addicted teens may also suffer physical pains and eye strain, experience headaches, and have falling grades.

Outdoor Therapy for Troubled Teens

The internet, social media, video games, etc., are all still relatively new and are a unique part of modern life. Thus, the long-term effects of this growing lack of true socialization are not yet fully known.

For troubled teens struggling with internet addiction and its effects – like poor socialization skills, an outdoor therapy program may be a great source of help, especially if regular forms of therapy have not made significant improvement.

At the Pacific Quest wilderness program for adolescents and young adults, students are immersed in a community setting. Organic gardening and horticulture are at the center of the outdoor therapy program. While working in our gardens, students learn to work together and how to communicate with each other. But more importantly, the calming effects of and connection with nature help students understand the issues in their own lives and how to deal with their emotions. The whole-person wellness Pacific Quests aims to provide means troubled teens and young adults develop important life tools, such as good communication and socializing skills, while also becoming more balanced emotionally, mentally, and physically.

Friends are what help us get through each day. To help a troubled teen or young adult, learn about outdoor therapy programs and the possibility of help and health they can provide.

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