Monthly Archives: February 2014

Side Effects of Internet Addiction: Sedentary & Solitary

wilderness therapy for internet addictionIn recent years, newly created internet, gaming and technology addictions have forced adolescents, teens and young adults to adopt a more sedentary lifestyle than children of previous generations. With a myriad of electronic temptations indoors, today’s sedentary teens are suffering in areas of physical and mental health and well-being. The solitary existence has created a generation of youth with issues such as depression, anxiety, bullying, isolating, lack of communication skills, poor grades… the list goes on. Thanks to wilderness therapy and outdoor programs like Pacific Quest, there is a solution to this very sad situation.

Internet Addictions Side Effects

Internet and technology dependency inherently promotes a lifestyle that is not conducive to exercise and physical activity. Many teens tend to become so enthralled in games, Facebook, chats etc… that peeling them away from the phone, computer, TV or tablet can prove to be an ominous task.

Compounding the inactivity is the fact that teens who sit more, eat more …and this increased food intake isn’t usually made up of healthy food choices. More youth today are eating highly processed foods, rich in calories and often deplete in nutrition. It’s no secret that a sedentary lifestyle coupled with poor food choices is adding up to an epidemic of childhood obesity, replete with the potential for early onset of chronic health conditions, a shortened lifespan and a decline in physical fitness. Other side effects of internet addictions of all sorts can include carpal tunnel syndrome, dry eyes, migraine headaches, a decline in personal hygiene and backaches.

The convenience of doing everything from home has been known to cause some people to recoil from social situations. This trend has especially negative consequences with teenagers, for whom positive (and negative) social interaction help to form valuable personality and life lessons. In fact, replacements for real-life socializing may be resulting in higher cases of depression. (There is debate as to whether depression results from, or is a cause, or internet overuse. A study published in the “Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine” found depression, as well as ADHD and social phobia, to increase the chances of excessive Internet use in adolescents.)

There is also evidence suggesting that internet addictions & overuse can contribute to sleep disturbances… Later bed times, later waking times, less restful sleep and an overall decrease in sleep.

Obviously, parents could and should encourage their kids/teens to use the internet for school projects and some degree of entertainment, but limit the time that they are allowed to spend on the computer or with technology. They can support involvement in sports teams at an early age and make outside activities fun and interesting. (The earlier a child is introduced to the mental and physical benefits of outside activity, the more likely he or she is to avoid inside amusements such as the internet, TV, and video games.) However, what are parents to do when all else has failed and their children’s lives are dangerously getting worse?

What to do: Wilderness Therapy & Outdoor Therapy

The solution to sedentary and solitary addictions can be found in uniquely created outdoor therapy and wilderness therapeutic programs like Pacific Quest: Pacific Quest’s innovative Sustainable Growth model incorporates Whole Person Wellness, Individualized Clinical Care, Rites of Passage, Horticultural Therapy and Healthy Community Living in an outdoor, experiential environment. All of this facilitates health, awareness, healing, growth and life skills benefitting  teens and young adults with internet addictions.

“We create life-changing experiences for struggling adolescents and young adults. Our outdoor therapy programs help young people to make better choices and live healthier, more productive lives. Pacific Quest is an internationally recognized wilderness therapy program serving families from all over the world. Located on the Big Island of Hawaii, Pacific Quest goes beyond traditional wilderness therapy programs, cultivating change by teaching sustainable life skills in a clinically innovative and nurturing environment.”

The bottom line is that at it’s core, the newest trends in internet addictions are a community issue, not just and individual problem. Helping teens and young adults clear away the side effects of Internet Addictions takes a group effort. The programs available at Pacific Quest can jump start the change that might otherwise never happen! Young people leave the program seeing their purpose and potential more clearly, with a renewed sense of self. What better way is there to being a healthy contributing member of society?

To learn more call us at (808)937-5806 or visit: Pacific Quest

Breaking down Internet Addiction

wilderness therapy internet addictionInternet addiction is a very recent concept, which is easily understandable as the internet has been widely available for only the last two decades. This trouble with this uniquely modern struggle is that many people don’t accept it as a true problem.

Internet addiction is not yet considered a true addiction, but studies are showing that spending excessive hours online has some very real consequences.

The Medical Basis of Internet Addiction

Researchers have compiled a lot of data supporting the idea that people can develop a dependency on the internet and the devices that keep them connected – computers, smartphones, and tablets. The constant connectivity plus the instant feedback of our online activities elicits a positive response in our brains because of dopamine, that brain chemical that gets released when something good happens and is thought to be one contributing factor to substance abuse addiction. This feel-good cycle continues because we crave that the next dose of dopamine and stay logged on.

Many people overuse digital technology with only a small percentage suffering from true internet addiction. Still, it’s good to know the signs.

Becoming Aware: Identifying the Red Flags of Internet Addiction

  • Compulsively checking messages or browsing the web, perhaps unaware of your behavior
  • Experiencing withdrawal symptoms, like irritability and depression, when away from your computer or forced to turn off a device
  • Inability to set limits even when other aspects of your life begin to suffer, such as job/school performance and personal relationships

Health issues are also linked to internet addiction due to long hours of inactivity: physical issues such as joint pain, obesity, and even diabetes. Lack of sleep has its own set of consequences. Plus, constantly being connected can lead to increased levels of cortisol, the stress hormone that sets you up for anxiety or other stress-related illnesses.

Wilderness Therapy: Getting Away and Getting in Control

Adolescents and young adults may be more susceptible to developing internet addiction because their generation has always known a world with the internet. Increased numbers of adolescents have their own phones and computers, and unless parents monitor their behavior, unchecked internet use can cause problems.

One key to getting back in control is regulating internet use – much easier said than done when so much of modern life seems tied to technology. A digital detox – going away, perhaps to a treatment facility, for a weekend – can be an option for some. For others, a more prolonged remedy may be necessary, especially if internet addiction is the manifestation of something more. Wilderness therapy for troubled adolescents and young adults is one such option. They get away from their troubles and get to interact with nature.

Pacific Quest is a wilderness therapy program located in Hawaii. Organic gardens are used as a therapeutic source; students learn by doing. As they work at building and maintaining the gardens, they gain a sense of self, purpose, and confidence. Gardening and being in nature have been shown to help with anxiety and other mood regulation issues.

The Pacific Quest wilderness program immerses students in a supportive community setting but also creates individualized care plans for each person. Individual and group therapy enables students to explore their feelings, get feedback on their struggles, and share their new accomplishments and growth. Pacific Quest stresses sustainable growth and change. Internet addiction doesn’t end with the wilderness program, so Pacific Quest aims to provide adolescents and young adults with the tools and life skills that will serve them once they get home as well as long into the future and in any tough situation.

Internet Addiction: Teens, Take Back Control

Do you spend more than a few hours a week online on a computer, smartphone, or tablet?
Do you ignore your homework? Chores?
Do you forego sleep to surf the net or play online games?
Have you stopped hanging out with friends?
Are family relationships suffering?
Do you still keep up with other hobbies or sports?

Wilderness Therapy Internet Addiction PQ garden diggingIf these questions hit home, you may be dealing with internet addiction. Maybe you’ve heard of it, maybe not. Maybe you’ve joked about being addicted to the net or not living without your smartphone with its social media apps and Candy Crush.

Internet addiction is gaining a lot of attention. A Google search turns up basic information, internet addiction tests, self-help tips, plus ads for professional help. While it’s not yet classified as a true addiction, much research has been devoted to the effects of excessive internet usage. And yes, studies show that spending too much time online and plugged in to gadgets has many negative effects.

Maybe it all sounds like a crazy idea to you. Another teen thought so, too. Yes, internet time was eroding certain aspects of her life, and an online quiz told her she had a big problem. She wasn’t convinced she had an addiction. She was, though, motivated to take control and change her habits. She found a wealth of happiness … away from her computer.

That is great!

Self-discipline worked for her, but it may not work for everyone. That’s because internet addiction isn’t simply about excessive internet use. It’s also characterized by neglect of personal hygiene, responsibilities, and relationships with friends and family. Underlying insecurities, depression, etc., mean some people turn to the internet for comfort or distraction, and end up lost in all the internet seems to offer. When the problem seems more than just bad habits and you don’t know what to do, it’s time to get help.

It’s OK to Ask for Help for Internet Addiction

Everyone needs help from time to time, and it takes strength to say you can’t do it on your own. Let your parents know something seems wrong. If you need, seek out a therapist or mental health professional. Talking with a third party can help you discover and begin to understand why you’ve developed an internet dependency.

Wilderness Therapy Programs: Helping Teens Get a Handle on Their Troubles

Of course, it’s tough to change when the source of your problem is a fact of modern life. You need the computer to write school reports, the internet to research information, so it’s easy to tell yourself, “I’ll check Facebook for only a few minutes.”

Deciding to go to a therapy program away from home isn’t easy, but it could be the best decision you’ve ever made, and it gets you away from the temptations of computers and smartphones. If an in-patient program seems too intimidating, look into wilderness therapy, which is about getting outside and learning to be alive, about you, and how to be a better, happier person. Wilderness therapy programs for adolescents and young adults like you are usually thought of as a last resort, but they don’t have to be. If it seems right for you, check one out.

Wilderness programs aren’t all the same. Some are tough, adventure camps. Others take a less outdoor-survival-skill approach, like Pacific Quest in Hawaii, where you’ll work in organic gardens and gain life skills, increase self-confidence, and reduce stress. Pacific Quest also teaches how exercise and sleep, nutrition and diet all factor into being happier and healthier. You’ll also get the opportunity to test your physical strength as you explore, hike, and discover the beautiful surroundings.

Wilderness therapy will challenge you – mentally, physically, emotionally. The road to change isn’t always easy; it requires work. Individual and group therapy gives you time to talk to a therapist and other teens with the same struggles. Pacific Quest’s wilderness therapy program is here to give you the tools to create lasting change that will help you take back control of your life.

Parents, You Can Help Prevent Cyberbullying

internet-addiction-wilderness-therapyBecause of cell phones and internet, adolescents are able to communicate through means that aren’t always easily monitored. In this setting, cyberbullying has become a new and serious issue. Reports about cyberbullying, the sending of mean or hurtful comments or pictures to another person through electronic means, show that approximately 43% of kids and teens have been bullied, nearly one-quarter have bullied more than once, and cyberbullying victims are 2-9 times more likely to commit suicide.

As kids turn into teens and young adults, they tend to become more private, so it’s easy for parents to think they’re powerless in their children’s lives when much seems to be kept from them. It is not unusual to hear about parents who were not aware their child was being cyberbullied – or that he or she was the one doing the bullying. Parents do have power, though, and it all lies in being proactive, especially when only 1 in 10 kids tell a parent or trusted adult about any abuse.

Tips for

  • Know your teen’s email and social media account screen names – and possibly their passwords.
  • Monitor children’s online activity on computers and other electronic devices. Installing software can help.
  • Learn the internet terms, abbreviations, slang, and text jargon teens are using.
  • Attend school or community events concerning cyberbullying.
  • Show that you are an open source of communication that can be trusted; let your child know you’ll keep any information private as long as no one else’s safety or health is at risk.
  • Be careful of your own reaction to any cyberbullying information you hear; remain composed as you decide what to do next.

If you suspect your child is being bullied,

  • Look for emotional changes, such as nervousness, anxiety, and fearfulness, which can develop over time or suddenly.
  • Talk to a school counselor

If you suspect your teen is taking part in cyberbullying,

  • Reassure her you don’t intend to punish her for being honest about any involvement
  • Talk to him about the repercussions of cyberbullying – perhaps carefully discussing news reports about teens who have committed suicide, plus the effects on the families
  • Discuss how she would like to be treated and whether she’d appreciate being bullied

Wilderness Therapy: A Place for Adolescents & Young Adults

Along with cyberbullying, another issue of this cyber age is internet addiction, in which excessive internet use is likely a byproduct of deeper issues. Using their smartphones and computers, adolescents have constant internet access, so there is little escape from their source of bullying or addiction. Both issues can cause adolescents to experience depression, anxiety, and a withdrawal from family and friends and from once-loved hobbies.

Parents who monitor their adolescents’ behavior and are proactive can help prevent something like cyberbullying or internet addiction from becoming a bigger problem. Sometimes, though, children need a little extra support.

A wilderness program for teens can be a great source of help. The Pacific Quest wilderness program has been helping troubled adolescents overcome many struggles using organic gardening and horticulture therapy. Through students’ engagement in nature and Pacific Quest’s gardens, they gain practical life skills in a structured but calming setting. They learn how to better cope with their emotions and life challenges. The result of wilderness therapy is that troubled adolescents transform into more confident, empowered, and balanced young adults. Pacific Quest is committed to creating lasting, sustainable growth and change, so that the adolescents who go through its wilderness therapy program, an important aspect in a world in which technology is inescapable.