Author Archives: Nick Tews

Video Games: Teen Health & Wellness

Ask teens and young adults what they like to do in their spare time, and one of the most popular answers is usually, “video games.” It can be frustrating for teachers, parents & youth counselors, who want to see teens out in the real world, interacting with real, positive peers and adults.

But what if we could use video games to actually help teens motivate and facilitate a multitude of necessary behavior changes using a wide range of digital platforms? Or  what if we could perhaps engage them in addiction awareness and treatment- through the use of video games?! That time may not be far off.

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s Pioneer Portfolio was an early investor in the health games space in 2004 with its grant to the Health Games Research and has invested more than $9 million in recent years. Pioneer saw video games as a promising but unconventional area for exploration, with the potential to lower costs of patient care and drive significant improvements in people’s health and health care. Pioneer focused on two areas where it could make the most impact: providing the health care industry with research and evidence on gaming effectiveness and connecting the fields of video games and health care issues.

Grantees have discovered that well-designed and well-implemented games can motivate and support prevention, lifestyle behavior change, self-care, clinical care, adherence to treatment plans, and self-management of chronic conditions.

Health Games Research is now a national program that advances the research, design, and effectiveness of interactive games used to improve health, wellness and addiction issues. It has funded 21 research projects nationwide, with many findings released in 2012 that may contribute to the increasing perception of digital games as an evidence-based consideration in many areas of health care treatment. Researchers are evaluating questions of efficacy as well as principles of game design to determine not only if a game works, but also why it works- to inform effective innovation in the next generation of games to improve the health of our next generation of adults.

The Games for Health Project

The Games for Health project supports a range of convening and field-building efforts that help forge connections between the worlds of games and health/addiction issues. Regional conferences bring together game designers and developers, researchers, medical professionals, educators, entrepreneurs, policymakers, and others to share information about games technology and its application to health.

More than $2 million in grants will enable research teams to help strengthen the evidence base that supports the development and use of digital interactive games to improve players’ health behaviors and outcomes. Funded studies explore topics ranging from the “Effectiveness of Social Mobile Networked Games in Promoting Active Lifestyles for Wellness”  to how people in substance abuse treatment can practice skills and behaviors in the virtual world of a game to prevent real-world relapses.

Previous studies and clinical trials have shown that well-designed interactive games can significantly improve the players’ health-related knowledge, skills, behaviors and outcomes and there is tremendous opportunity to advance in the growing field of games and health, and to maximize its potential to improve the health of teens and young adults.

Examples Of A Few Grant Recipients

1)Indiana University, School of Health, Physical Education and Recreation (Bloomington, Ind.)—BloomingLife: The Skeleton Chase is an alternative reality game designed to promote physical activity and healthy lifestyles among college freshmen. It involves an interactive fictional story—a mystery that takes eight weeks to solve—unfolding across a variety of media (e-mail, Web sites, phone calls from fictional characters, physiological monitoring) and real-world physical and mental challenges that players must surmount to gather clues. The study will compare the impacts of competitive versus collaborative game versions.”

2)University of Central Florida, College of Medicine (Orlando, Fla.)—Practicing Relapse Prevention in Artificial-Reality Environments [PREPARE]: A Game-Based Therapy Maintenance Tool will investigate role-playing games designed to enable people, 18 to 65 years old, that are diagnosed with alcohol abuse or dependence to practice skills that can help them prevent real-world relapses. The relapse prevention games are embedded as minigames within an extensive multiplayer online game. The study will compare behavioral and health impacts of treatment, plus access to the game versus treatment without access to the game.

3)University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, School of Public Health (Chapel Hill, N.C.)—Presence: Predicting Sensory and Control Effects of Console Video Games in Young Adults will investigate motivations to expend energy during video game play for 18- to 35-year-olds. The study will compare physiological measures of energy expenditure while people play traditional video games (those that involve pushing buttons on a standard game controller or on a Wii motion-sensing controller) versus active video games (those that require physical movement using inputs such as a dance pad, balance board or guitar). It also will explore players’ sense of being present in the game and their intrinsic motivation to play, two factors that are known to increase the amount of time people will spend playing a game. This is the first time that research will identify the impact of these factors on players’ energy expenditure; study results may lead to recommendations for making traditional games more active and active games more compelling.

4)University of Southern California, School of Cinematic Arts (Los Angeles, Calif.)—Effectiveness of Social Mobile Networked Games in Promoting Active Lifestyles for Wellness will use cell phones and the Web to deliver “Wellness Partners,” a character-driven social mobile networked game, to children and adults ages 12 to 44. The game is designed to motivate real-world wellness through a player support system that involves family members and friends, and by incorporating elements from virtual pets, role-playing games and online social networking. A single-player version provides a fictional game character that offers encouragement, reminders, progress checking and communication with others. The multiplayer version allows players to enlist members of their social network to be partners or helpers. The study will examine how various components of the game may motivate healthy behaviors.

It is extremely exciting that we live in a time when innovative projects like these may lead to breakthrough improvements in the future of our children’s health care. For more information about Pioneer’s Health Games Research national program and the research projects it supports you can visit:

http://www.healthgamesresearch.org

http://www.healthgamesresearch.org/database





The Real World Leads To Real Happiness

On a lowly Saturday night, many of us have been guilty of being sucked down the Facebook black hole. Hours later you may find yourself in the same position on the couch without an ounce of productivity. For an activity or behavior that seemingly draws us in as social media does it can also leave us disoriented, hollow, and unfulfilled.

In our Internet laced world, we are constantly looking for a source of stimulation, whether through our smart phone or our friends’ own activities. Social media sites are an exciting avenue to discover new interests. Our News Feeds are constantly updated with new content and additions to engage with and other’s personal lives to inspect. However, this is where depression can find its way into our lives.

One of the many inaccuracies that teen depression, young adult depression, adolescent depression, wilderness therapy programsocial media attempts to display is that it presents the truth to viewers. Websites such as Facebook and MySpace are specifically designed to have their members put their best foot forward to the world. Members intentionally choose what aspects of their lives they want the rest of the world to witness. From profile images, to photos, to what they post and like, all content is shared for a specific purpose and through a specific filter.

Hidden behind the superficial facades of self imagery, and constant check-ins are struggles and battles we never witness. Instead, things are shown to us deemed appropriate to share: smiles, exotic vacations, and wild nights out on the town with friends.

While in photos life seems carelessly happy, fun, and harmless; they can lead individuals to some dark places. Why would such jovial evidence lead to this? Competition and comparison lead to depression.  With social media there is a sense of social comparison. Comparing your life to the facade of your friend’s page can leave you feeling disconnected, inferior, and even exhausted. A rule of thumb to follow is, “Don’t judge your insides by other people’s outsides.”

A positive way to combat these feelings of insecurity and depression is by limiting your time on social media websites. Research has found that people who spend their time with friends in the “real” world and less time socializing online felt happier and more fulfilled than those that spent the majority of their time forming relationships in cyberspace. Whether you set limits on the time you’ve allotted for yourself or, make a routine excursion with a friend for a couple hours; take necessary measures to limit your time on social media. Engage with the “real” world to make “real” connections.





Tips On Avoiding Video Game Addiction

Is that one more level or one more life getting in the way of living your own life? For many people, video games have started as a staple in personal entertainment and a habitual activity to pass the time, to a full-blown self-necessity they feel they need to fulfill. But where does one draw the line between play and problem?

Video games used to be reserved for playing in dungy basements, the backseat of a car on a family vacation, and bombastic arcades. Now, there is no escaping the grasps they can reach. A video game is on our computer, tablet, online and always in our hands. Smart video game addictionphones have made conveniences readily available to us in the palms of our hands, but they’ve also opened the floodgates to a treacherous realm where, literally, the good comes with the bad.

Children today prefer to a turn on a video game rather than go outside when they have a spare moment. This world we live in inundates the technologically advanced youth so much that it is no longer the adults that are the experts, it’s the children. Technology and the Internet have now become an extension of themselves they’ve become accustomed to since they could swipe with a finger. Our youth are immersed in media activity that assails their senses with excitement and causes addictive chemicals to release into their brains.

If you’re finding your teen or young adult continually playing video games rather than reading, doing their chores, or if the activity is impeding their schooling and daily life, then a video game addiction could be a sobering possibility. If you’re noticing this behavior pacing its way into your child’s daily life, the following tips can help in avoiding video game addiction:

  • Have your child acknowledge and say the activity they do when they come home from work or school. Saying this out loud will emphasize the repetition of their activity.
  • Encourage them to make a list of things to do. They should write down everything that has to be done during their day and list them in order of importance.
  • They should look and follow that list every day, and follow it. They can cross off each activity, duty, or task as they take care of it. This encourages children to be responsible for their actions. They will have no one to blame, but their own actions.
  • Set limits to the amount of time they are allowed to play their video games. If they are playing with other children, have them tell those children the amount of time they are allotted. Time can swiftly pass while playing video games, but others may help to remind them of their time limitations.
  • Try something new with them or something they like to do besides video games.

These tips are smaller alterations and alternatives to their usual routines. The changes shouldn’t be seen too distracting, allowing for a greater increase of success. Now, start utilizing these tips in an activity today. Go grab your teen or young adult and see what’s out there away from a screen.





The Disadvantages of Video Game Addiction

When it comes to video game addiction, what are the disadvantages? Obviously this sounds like a ridiculous question. If something is considered an addiction isn’t it often associated as a negative? Does this video game addiction : internet addiction & wilderness therapy programassociation itself make it a disadvantage? The disadvantages lie in the specific qualities a video game addiction can conjure or impede.

In recent years the interactive game has become an amazing development in the area of image quality, realism, interactivity, and the variety of games available to users. These advancements have led children and young adults to spend more of their time gaming and less time together sharing with one another.

The following are a few of the disadvantages that can come with a video game addiction:

  • Personal physical health can be seriously impacted from poor video gaming habits. Gamers become lazy and neglect necessary activities such as exercise, eating healthy and proper foods, damaged eyesight, headaches and the inability to sleep.
  • Video games can negatively affect the mental health of gamers. Focussing one’s attention on video games requires all their attention and leads to a reduced contact with the environment around. This can also lead to a lack of interest in daily activities and hobbies. Furthermore, gamers become isolated in their addiction and lack the necessary social interaction with families and friends.
  • Spending many hours in front of a screen and not enough social interaction can also cause social problems thus resulting in gamers becoming shy and introvert. Many of the games developed today are more violent, leading gamers with the tendency to lose control and become more aggressive.
  • A new research has proved that excessive playing of video games can actually stunt the growth of a human brain. While there are games that can stimulate brain activity in both the left and right hemispheres of the frontal lobe. The frontal lobe of the brain is associated with learning, memory and emotion and continues to develop till the age of 20. This raises a level of concern as brain development is imperative during those crucial years.

Parents should understand the severity of keeping track of the amount of time their child spends in front of the screen playing games and also what type of games they play. Every aspect of an activity has its advantages and disadvantages; so is the law of nature. What we can do is try to maintain a balance and get the best of what it has to offer, be it nature or technology. Sometimes the best and simplest remedy is to just unplug and take a walk.





It Doesn’t Matter, Internet Addiction Can Find You

It’s no lie that in today’s ocean of technology the Internet is no longer the rare luxury that it once was. It has seeped into every crevasse and precipice of our lives and, quite literally, has changed the way we live, communicate, and interact.

With so much of an effect on us, it doesn’t take a scientific study to understand that individuals utilize the Internet for different purposes, especially when it comes to men and women. Men are often drawn to internet addiction - wilderness therapy program for teensthe Internet for sports, while women prefer to shop or to learn something new.

So how are the sexes commonly spending their time online? Men spend more than 19 hours online per week, more than a third longer than women. Eighty two of those minutes are reserved for checking the latest in scores and 89 minutes are used for virtual gaming and gambling. Women prefer to spend their time online catching up on the latest celebrity news, about 27 minutes. They’re also more likely to step away from the Internet and participate in activities offline.

The Internet is so accessible and convenient that we can access anything on the Web anywhere at any time. This inundation is fostering and growing an entire generation of Internet addicts. Between mobile phones, laptops, tablets, smartphones, and even television sets, the average user can get online through three different devices.

Many users are ashamed or embarrassed to admit that they have a problem with their Internet usage. They attempt to justify their addiction by proclaiming they “need the Internet to function in everyday life.” The Internet for many occupations and activities are vital and cannot easily be worked around, but many activities can be done offline. Students believe writing a paper or accessing information can only be done with the use of the Internet. Remember the days when students entered a library and read through a book to find their required information? Well, the library hasn’t gone anywhere and the same activity can be done today. Even the simple desire of wanting to know what is happening with celebrities can be quenched by a delightful walk to the supermarket to purchase a tabloid magazine.

There are those individuals that cannot seem to find different ways to entertain themselves or be productive without their access to the Internet. When this is the case, they may have an addiction to the Internet.

A beneficial means of combatting this addiction is a wilderness therapy program. At Pacific Quest, we help in opening teen’s and young adult’s eyes to the possibilities of something more in their lives. That the world does not exist solely on their computer, but out in nature and with other individuals without screens or devices in front of them.

With our Sustainable Growth Model, students learn the benefits and values of responsibility and maintaining something in nature rather than a Facebook account. Our Wellness Program helps students learn about proper nutrition and diet, and the benefits of proper exercise and adequate sleep.
While attending our wilderness therapy program, students learn:

  • to better communicate and connect with family members and other individuals
  • life skills they can practice in our Organic Gardening & Horticultural Therapy
  • gain self-confidence in their everyday lives by taking responsibilities for their actions and experimenting with new tasks

No matter the gender, demographic, or occupation, the Internet will find you. Do something beneficial for yourself today: stay hidden.





A Smartphone Can Connect to Internet Addiction

For many of us it’s fair to say that we compulsively check our smartphones. This compulsion grows the more we use and fuels that urge to instinctually monitor it.

In the waiting room of a doctor’s office. On the bus on our way to work. Laying in bed before falling asleep. Even while at dinner with family or friends. Our smartphones have literally become an extension of ourselves, another limb if you will. Smartphone and Internet Addiction - wilderness therapy programAs many individuals who lost limbs can contest to sensations of ghost pain or the belief that their limb is still present, we cling or grab to our smartphone in fear that we will lose it or for the comfort that it is still with us.

The new trend in our society is sitting with friends at a restaurant, their presence and company is no longer enough. Groups of individuals sitting across from one another do not converse, they peruse their smartphones to find much more engaging stimuli or to discover what other individuals are participating in.

Checking our phone, email, Facebook or Twitter has become almost as natural as breathing. In a recent study, it has been found that 70% of users say they check their smartphones within an hour of getting up, 51% say they check continuously while on vacation, and 44% say they would experience a great deal of anxiety if they lost their phone and couldn’t replace it for a week. It’s apparent many of our habits and social eccentricities have changed since the arrival of the smartphone.

Are you a smartphone addict?

Here are a few indicators that you’re addicted to your smartphone:

  • You can’t go five minutes without checking your email or social networking account.
  • You have more than five email accounts.
  • You respond to messages in the middle of the night.
  • When your inbox says, “No new messages,” you refresh your account just to make sure.
  • Checking email constantly provides you validation that you’re “Always on top of things.”

Managing your smartphone use

We understand for some occupations and individuals that giving up your smartphone all together would spell disaster or would be simply ridiculous. Here are a few steps to help control your usage:

  • Be conscious of the situations and emotions that spark you to use your smartphone. Is it boredom? Loneliness? Anxiety? Insecurity?
  • Be strong when your phone alerts you. You don’t always have to answer it.
  • Be disciplined about not using your device in certain situations (such as when you’re with children, driving, or in a meeting) or at certain hours ( for instance, between 9 p.m. and 7 a.m.).
  • Be independent with how you interact with your smartphone. Go out for a walk or spend time in nature without the company of your device.

Smartphone addiction in teens and young adults

One of the fastest and largest groups to become addicted to their mobile devices are teens and young adults. They spend much of their time on social networking sites, messaging one another and finding themselves easily bored in certain situations. Much of this exposure and time spent on a smartphone can lead to them having an internet addiction.

A successful way to manage and control this behavior is with a wilderness therapy program. Nature can often provide the best remedies and open an individual’s eyes to what is true, real, and necessary.

At a wilderness therapy program, teens and young adults learn to be more independent and self-aware, qualities of themselves they may not have been able to notice and achieve without the distraction of a mobile device constantly in their face. Smartphones and Internet usage are kept to a minimum, allowing students to focus on themselves. At Pacific Quest, individual and group therapy sessions help teens and young adults unearth and understand those feelings and emotions that drive them to use their smartphone in an unhealthy manner.

Take a moment and listen, no it’s not your phone alerting you, it’s nature and your life calling. Answer, text or message. Regain your life and independence back, and make a different kind of connection.





Social Networking- Meet Internet Addiction

I wonder what Douglas Engelbart would think about our nation of teens and adults alike, who have become obsessed with, and even addicted to, social networking. Engelbart was the inventor of the computer mouse who passed away on July 2 at age 88. His visionary computer scientist’s work in the 1950’s and 60’s was so prescient and influential in so many ways; In an era when interacting with computers involved feeding punch cards into a mainframe and most of the people doing the interacting were scientists alone, Engelbart saw computers as a way for ordinary human beings to augment their intellect. Then he set about building the necessary tools to make that not JUST possible, but easy.

In 1959 at The Stanford Research Institute, he spearheaded groundbreaking work on graphical user interfaces, hypertext, video-conferencing, networking and other fundamentals of personal computing that were later to be commercialized in Silicone Valley and elsewhere.

Hmmm, so, computers augmenting our intellect hunh? Well, in April 2009, Oprah Winfrey finally logged on to Twitter, she sent her first “tweet,” taking online social Internet addiction & social networkingnetworking out of the hands of the computer-savvy and into the living rooms of every American. And these days it seems like everyone and their grandma has a Facebook page, Twitter account or LinkedIn profile. However, teens and adolescents especially seem to be logging on every day, obsessively updating their profiles and checking the status updates of their online friends. Sure it’s a fun way to pass the time and stay in touch, but can these sites be dangerous for possible addiction? Can we become addicted to social networking?

Social networking is not a new concept, it’s been around as long as we have. A “social network” means simply the structure of relationships among individuals. Isn’t everyone on the planet is part of one big social network?  But we also belong to smaller, more distinct “sub-networks”. We define these sub-networks by criteria like: our families, friends, jobs, schools, hobbies and more. You have a social network at school, work, even at the dog park by your house. The list goes on and on, and many people in your network may overlap. Actually, our contacts multiply all the time, as we meet new people through the people in your existing networks. Social networking Web sites really just evolved from these face-to-face networks.

Online sites are powerful because they harness the strength of the Internet to manage and map out your relationships. It’s a visual thing and we are visual creatures. You can physically see your network — your friends, your friends’ friends, and so on — and how you connect with all of them. Social networking sites allow people to manage their relationships as well as find new ones. Once you join a social networking site, you may find yourself spending a lot of time there. Is it all in good fun, or can online social networks be addictive? Today’s kids spend a lot – if not too much- of time in front of digital screens. In 2008, the American Journal of Psychiatry published an editorial in support of naming “Internet addiction” as a bona fide mental condition.  Even though it’s not formally classified, many treatment and rehab centers worldwide now offer services for Internet addiction. This includes treatment for cyber porn, online gambling, online affairs and eBay addiction. Of course, these are all behaviors with serious consequences. The hallmark of an addiction is determining/ admitting whether your actions are affecting yourself or others in a negative way.

So, is hanging out on Facebook any different from talking on the phone for hours, or gabbing with your friends over coffee? Experts claim that if you’re spending abnormally large amounts of time doing social networking, you could be damaging your relationships and even your health. It seems that a lack of face-to-face contact can affect you both socially and physically. Significant eventual damage can occur…Depending upon a computer screen for human interaction might undermine the ability to follow social cues or understand body language. Besides, we’re also genetically predisposed to physically benefit from being face-to-face with another human. There’s even an online test you can take to see if the time you spend online might be a problem (which won’t be accurate if you’re addicted to online tests, of course).

Once we’ve had the social networking bite and have had a taste of how all encompassing it becomes, what is it that compels us to keep logging on?

Reason #1: Web sites are a product, and any product pusher wants return customers. When more visitors keep returning to a site, it means more ad revenue… more ad revenue means more money for the company that owns the site.

Reason #2: Programmers design every element on a social networking site to suck you in and keep you coming back. But how do they do this you ask? Sites like Twitter and Facebook offer “status updates” where users can enter a few short phrases about what they’re doing at that very moment. Users may find themselves constantly checking their friends’ updates, or changing their own updates on a regular basis. If you comment on someone else’s photo or update, sites will generate an email to let you know. You can reach out and “poke” a friend, take a quiz or survey and compare the results with your friends or upload a photo of your new puppy doing something cute so everyone can ooh and ahh over him. You reach out to the site and it reaches out to you — keeping you coming back from a few to a few dozen times a day.

Reason #3: With the increasing popularity of wireless devices like the BlackBerry and iPhone, iPad — devices that can move lots of data very quickly — users have access to their social networks 24 hours a day. Most social networking sites have developed applications for your mobile phone, so logging on is always convenient. It’s a quick fix. Social networks also tap into our human desire to stay connected with others. The rush of nostalgia as you connect with your former grade-school classmate on Facebook can be so awesome.

Reason #4: The main reason we find these sites so addictive? Plain old narcissism. Seriously. Teens especially are completely self-obsessed at their stage of development. We broadcast our personalities online whenever we publish a thought, photo, YouTube video or answer one of those “25 Things About Me” memes. We put that information out there so that people will respond and connect to us. Being part of a social network is sort of like having your own “Entourage”.

In 2008, researchers at the University of Georgia studied the correlation between narcissism and Facebook users. It is not surprising that they found the more “friends” and wall posts a user had, the more narcissistic he or she was. They noted that narcissistic people use Facebook in a self-promoting way, rather than in a connective way. It may be an obvious theory, but it also suggests that social networks bring out the narcissist in all of us.

Reason #5: Here’s another quick fix- Social networks are a voyeuristic experience for many users. Following exchanges on Twitter or posts on Facebook and MySpace are akin to eavesdropping on someone else’s conversation- or even watching from a windowed view. It’s entertaining and allows you to feel like a “fly on the wall” in someone else’s life Social networking sites also publicly list your “friends” or “followers” — giving you instant status. How many people do you know online who spend all their time trying to get more friends, more followers, more testimonials? We work hard in real life to elevate our statuses, make friends and search out boosters for our self-esteem. Ummm, Internet social networking provides this to us, and we don’t even have to change out of our sweatpants to get it.





Internet Addictions: A mind without distractions?

Forget about “Reboot”, “Restart”, or “Refresh”…  for many of us, it is seriously time to click on “ Shut Down”! Digital distractions are frying our brains, making focusing on tasks fuzzy, and affecting what most young people don’t realize is a mind-body connection.

Critically acclaimed American novelist and essayist, Jonathan Franzen, who famously wrote much of his book “The Corrections” wearing a blindfold and earplugs to reduce disruptions is quoted as saying “ It’s doubtful that anyone with an Internet connection at his workplace is writing good fiction”. Even supposed “casual” Internet users know all too well the distractions of those unsolicited tweets, email pings and hilarious YouTube videos… Browsing the web for school Disconnect from the Internet - Internet Addictionreports, research- even as a social networking guru or video game master – can end up taking up enormous amounts of time from our day, because when we start looking on the Internet for one thing, it’s easy to get lost for 20 minutes or more! It’s part of the far-reaching and addictive quality of the Internet…the hours that seem to some how speed by in the blink of an eye while we become immersed, zombie-like, in the wearisome world-wide-web.

As it turns out, learning how to minimize distractions can dramatically increase our productivity and effectiveness, as well as reduce our stress. Who knew right? Without distractions, we could all get in to a proactive flow, produce high-quality work, and achieve much more during the day.

What researchers call mindfulness training– or becoming more mindful -seems to be about a connection between our minds and our bodies. Recognizing patterns of this connection in daily life, consistent practice, and retraining our brains to block out interruptions and remain focused, has helped many people improve their scores on exams, and improved their “working memory”- our mind’s ability to retain and sort through small pieces of information.

Our brains contain several regions that scientists collectively call the “default network,” which kick into high gear when our minds wander, which they do quite frequently when being targeted by so many distractions. By training our brains to focus on simple sensory cues, it may be possible to decrease activity in the default network. Helping all of our minds to stick to a single task could actually change the face ADHD and ID.

Quick fix?

A quick technique or step in mindfulness retraining is to begin by ditching distractions (whether you’re on the train home from work, at your desk, or having dinner, begin by setting aside anything you may be reading, watching, or listening to). Next, sit upright and try to focus only on your simple sensory perceptions: like your breathing, the sound of rain, or the way your food tastes etc… It’s okay if things pop into your head, but try not to think about them too directly or judgmentally.  Counting your breaths while in this mindset, up to 10 and then starting over at zero, can help to keep your thoughts clear and focused. Doing this for 5 to 10 minutes a day can improve your mind’s ability to stay focused.

In treating Internet addictions, young adults in wilderness therapy programs have the opportunity and undistracted time to gain a firm grasp on emotions by practicing mindfulness- or mind-body relaxation techniques. They can parcel off a portion of a day for quiet, stillness and solitude, calm breathing and deeper mediation work. It is this kind of intentional care that seems to have lasting positive effects on mental health. “Grasping and caring for the health of the mind-body connection is a mainstay of therapy programs for young people. Without the health of the mind, the body suffers. Without the health of the body, the mind suffers. When that connection is made between the two, striving for optimal, whole health is possible.”

More active tips for improving focus and diminishing distractions:

  • Use Special software – There are some amazing new software applications such as Freedom and Anti-Social that can help to eliminate online distractions. You can specify which websites you want to block, and even set a timer for how long you want the block to remain active! Using technology to help you from abusing technology. Genius.
  • Close That Internet Browser – You can eliminate Internet distractions by keeping your browser closed when you’re not using it.  Log out of your accounts if you are a big Facebook or Twitter user- or even a constant email checker!  If you’re forced to take those few extra seconds to log in each time, it may act as a reminder to you that you’re not focusing on work. (As an adjustment to this tip you can allow yourself to only check in at set times of the day – for instance, before lunch and at the end of the day.)
  • Take Little Internet Breaks – Remember that taking little breaks, especially after working for an hour or more in deep concentration, is always useful for resting your mind and rebooting. These tiny breaks allow you to return to focus with renewed energy. Perhaps you can use casual Internet browsing as a reward for every hour that you devote to high quality, focused work. Feeling empowered is much more effective tool in mindful retraining.

Now that you’ve utilized your time (extremely wisely) by reading about Internet addictions and distractions, it is a perfect opportunity for you to turn your computer off, do a little stretch and settle in for some highly effective mindfulness retraining.





Online Does Not Mean Living

If your teen is more interested in spending a beautiful weekend adjusting their Facebook page than spending time with the family outside or having a carefree day with a friend, they may be exhibiting signs of Internet addiction. Teenagers growing up with technology, Internet and smart phones are no longer thought to be naïve to the world of technology. Now they are the individuals parents and adults often refer to for advice and Internet Addiction in teens and young adultsinformation when it comes to new advances and trends in the technological world. This leads many teens clever and slick in hiding their past visits to web sites that can be considered unsavory and inappropriate for their ages. If your teen’s browser history is filled with countless visits to adult-oriented web sites, they may have a case of addiction.

The Internet is a seductive place for anyone looking to escape for a couple minutes, but for some teens this translates to hours. The online world draws teens who are far more likely to write on their friend’s Facebook wall than to make the effort to visit them in person.

There is the problem. The Internet is the perfect place for teens. Through social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter, teens have the rare opportunity to control their environment and represent themselves as whomever or whatever they choose. For most teens, middle school and high school years can be the most trying and difficult times. They are ripe with feelings of insecurity and those frustrations of discovering one’s identity. With social networking, teens can present the individual they would like to be or represent. All the material on these sites are edited and filtered through by the teens themselves and presented to the world as a face they want viewers to see. It’s come to the point where if a specific aspect of their lives is undesirable, their photos or their friends, one simple click can take care of that.

Many parents can feel torn by wanting to limit the amount of time their teenager spends online. If a teen is struggling socially, some parents see the Internet as a beneficial source for human interaction. However, there are often better solutions for teens that are struggling.

Teenagers may think that living a full and productive life means a life online. This is not the case. Spending one’s time out in the world and experiencing different activities and adventures can help teens break out from their isolated cocoons.  A wilderness therapy program can be an answer to breaking your teen away from that computer screen or smart phone. Teens at the Pacific Quest wilderness therapy program

When a teenager attends a wilderness therapy program they are placed in a wilderness environment that removes the technological distractions. This allows teens and young adults to focus on themselves and delve into the underlying reasons why they choose the solace of the Internet as opposed to a richer and fuller world that is out there for them.

Nature offers these teens a facet of their lives they may never have experienced before. With only the environment and themselves, students gain independence and a sense of identity. Teens learn to cast away their destructive learned behaviors and habits and begin with a clean slate.

While at the wilderness program, teens learn:

  • To nurture a healthy relationship with family, community, work and purpose
  • About the five pillars of health: nutrition, sleep, movement, breathing and the body/mind connection
  • About their caregiving role and responsibilities
  • To empower themselves with life skills
  • A greater self-awareness and ways of interacting in the world

A wilderness therapy program can be a life-changing agent in a teenager’s life. Pacific Quest helps teens and young adults transition into the next stage of life with a sense of confidence and accomplishment. They are provided with tools to help take on any form of adversity and skills to help them contend with difficulties with struggling times, an aspect of life that cannot be learned from a web site, profile post or tweet.





Internet: The Problem and Addiction Is Everywhere

How do you escape a problem when the culprit is everywhere, literally everywhere? In our hands, our cars, pockets and backpacks, in our refrigerators, restaurants, there’s no turning the corner where its influence cannot and will not find you. The Internet has you.wilderness therapy program for internet addiction

It has only been a few years since the Internet was a luxury and option only enjoyed at a select few locations, often reserved for the comforts of one’s home or the occasional internet cafe. Now, we can quite literally walk, run or drive and it’s with us or, sometimes, follows us. An entire generation of teens are growing up and maturing with the routine and mentality that the Internet is, and has always been, at their beck and call. They’ve grown with it, and has been a staple they’ve come to know. So how does one go about breaking away from the grips of a distracting stimulus? You disconnect from it.

The Signs and Symptoms of Internet Addiction

Before any action can be taken for Internet addiction, the individual suffering must exhibit the signs of an addictive personality. Individuals suffering from Internet addiction tend to exhibit the following traits:

  • Decreased productivity
  • Less socialization
  • Using the Internet as an emotional outlet
  • Losing track of time
  • Being defensive about Internet use
  • Inability to stop
  • Eye strain, backaches, headaches, carpal tunnel syndrome, poor nutrition, or trouble sleeping
  • Using the Internet for inappropriate activities

Disconnect, now!

If your teen or young adult is found to be addicted to the Internet, one of the most positive solutions is a wilderness therapy program. Since the Internet is readily and, almost, always available to everyone, the most common solution of disconnecting can often be the most problematic. Where do you go where the Internet cannot reach or is carefully monitored?

At the Pacific Quest wilderness therapy program the means of fostering the addictive Internet behavior is removed and replaced with activities, experiences and organic gardening that offer teens a better and, sometimes, more honest view of life. Through individual or group therapy sessions,  teens or young adults work with our clinicians to discover why they allow themselves to focus on such addictive behavior. Without computers, televisions, video games, and other distractions they are left with an open environment for them to focus on their lives, mistakes, relationships at home and begin to foster new interests they may never have known of with a screen in front of them.

Without the technological distractions, the teens and young adults attending may finally have a one-on-one experience with nature. Something they never would have known or had available to them being locked in their bedrooms staring at a screen of some kind.

With such a back to basics approach as a wilderness therapy program can offer, teens are released from their destructive constraints and realize that there is more to life than a posted tweet or a high score on a video game.