In 2012 researchers surveyed over 1,200 teens ages 14-19 on the Greek island of Kos about their internet use, personality, and substance abuse. The study included a portion that served as an “internet addiction test.” Some questions revolved around the consequences of their internet use. For example:
- Did they spend more time online than intended?
- Did they see a drop in their grades because of their online activities?
- Did they ever feel annoyed if/when they were interrupted while online?
The study, published in the Journal of Addiction Medicine, found approximately 15% of the teens qualified as heavy internet users with 5% showing signs of internet addiction. Past substance abuse was reported by 13% of respondents, including 7% reporting use within the last month.
Researchers found that the teens who reported using drugs also had notably higher average scores on the internet addiction test. In other words, as excessive internet use becomes a bigger problem for a teen, there is a greater likelihood of past or present substance abuse.
Researchers concluded these higher internet addiction scores could serve as valuable indicators of past or present substance use.
Signs of Internet Addiction
The Greek researchers cautioned that the findings were links between internet use and drug use and not a cause-and-effect relationship. However, the information can still be helpful. “Targeting the adolescent population that engages in increased internet use may be of benefit for drug abuse prevention programs,” the researchers wrote.
Noticing how often your teen is online and being aware of their online activities are important.
Some signs of internet addiction in adolescents and young adults include
- Preoccupation with internet and online activities
- Losing track of time spent on line
- Lying about online activities
- Lowered grades or school performance
- Feeling irritable when not at a computer
- Physical aches and pains
Where to Go for Help: Wilderness Therapy
At this point, many understand the difficulties of dealing with substance abuse and addiction. For troubled adolescents struggling with internet addiction, it, too, can be a difficult issue to overcome because the internet is so accessible. And just as with substance problems, internet addiction is often about deeper emotional and mental struggles; the internet becomes a type of coping mechanism.
Wilderness therapy aimed at troubled adolescents can be a chance to get away from the source of their struggles. More importantly, wilderness therapy doesn’t have to be a last resort when other things have failed to help a troubled adolescent or young adult. Pacific Quest’s outdoor program differs because it focuses on whole person wellness by integrating physical fitness, nutrition, and self-awareness with clinical and horticulture therapies. The amazing clinical team helps students understand their issues in individual and group therapy sessions. The entire wilderness therapy program is set up around providing troubled adolescents with life skills and tools that will serve them in any situation and for years to come.