Technology and the Pressure to Be Cool

internet addiction wilderness therapyTimes have surely changed, but peer pressure has always been a factor in life for both adults and kids. There has long been that pressure to fit in and look “cool.” Whatever that ideal of cool may be, today it incorporates technology and the gadgets we own.

Apple had been the trendsetter for tech-savvy coolness with the introduction of its iPhone, the first smartphone. It was a revolutionary machine that was as much a computer, camera, MP3 player, and gaming device as it was a phone. Now Android-powered or Microsoft smartphones are getting the edge on the ubiquitous iPhone. iPhones, marketers say, are no longer deemed “cool” by the younger crowds. Those younger crowds are today’s teenagers. So when teens are trying to fit in, smart phones become a sort of status symbol as much as apparel brands have been.

The Trouble with Technology

But unlike fitting in with the latest styles, smartphones present a trickier situation. With web browsing capabilities, young children and teens have continual access to the internet through their smartphones. Research into the effects of today’s technology – from texting to surfing the web – shows that it is affecting how we – both children and adults – think, process information, behave, and communicate. In some cases, teens have developed internet addiction. With their smartphones in hand, internet addiction is able to flourish even when they’re away from a home computer.

Also, schoolyard troubles seem to have increased because of computers and smartphones. Expressing mean and hurtful things about others is easier when you don’t have to face the person you’re talking about but instead send something online in a social media post, on a blog, or through email or text. Termed cyberbullying, some kids may feel peer pressure to join in on bullying a fellow classmate – perhaps to try and fit in with or endear themselves to the popular kids or to avoid being bullied themselves. The results can be tragic; many teens have committed suicide because of cyberbullying. Many times, parents aren’t even aware there is a problem until it is too late.

It’s about Balance

Speaking of fitting in, not having a cellphone may make them seem socially excluded. In absence of cell phones, kids would need to talk in person or make an actual phone call versus texting. But since smartphones aren’t going anywhere, giving an adolescent a smartphone may be a privilege worth holding off until he is older, or perhaps limit their access to one.

Computers and cell phones are a fact of modern life. Taking either away isn’t a realistic answer. While monitoring software empowers parents, the most important tool is parent involvement. Talk to kids about responsible internet and social media use. Pay attention to their online activities. As parents become more aware, they can stop something before it becomes a problem – like internet addiction or cyberbullying. Though, considering the side effects of technology, we should all be setting aside technology a little more often.

Helping Troubled Adolescents

If a problem with school or internet addiction develops, getting help for your adolescent or young adult child is an important step. In cases of internet addiction, adolescents may be experiencing more than trouble with spending too much time online, such as depression, poor social skills, or bullying.

Wilderness therapy has become a therapeutic alternative for troubled teens and young adults. Nature is a great source of healing, and at Pacific Quest, students spend many hours working in organic gardens and exploring the natural beauty of Hawaii, where Pacific Quest operates. The program utilizes horticulture therapy, which combines gardening with traditional counseling theory. The results are amazing: decreased anxiety, reduced stress, improved concentration, increased motivation and overall life satisfaction. Pacific Quest aims to provide sustainable growth and change, so along with therapy, students learn life skills that can be used throughout their lives. Because, it’s all about balance.

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