Internet Addiction

Internet, Technology Creating Barriers between People

“A picture is worth a thousand words.”

This quote is repeated for a reason. Words definitely have power, but a single image can succinctly capture a moment, situation, a scene – or even emotions.

Technology and the internet have made talking and writing each other so much easier when one considers every day typical communications as well as social media posts and comments, blogs, text messages, and emails. However, all this “talking” is somehow leading to a society in which people truly connect less than before technology took over.

It’s a situation that is difficult to explain with words. How can people be connected or interacting yet be — well, detached?

As a final project, student created a short animation called “Avoidance” in an attempt to illustrate this concept and tell the story of how technology can get in the way of truly being and interacting with another person – something that seems tough to do with words. She didn’t even include dialogue. Just images of people going throughout their day, interacting with their gadgets and essentially ignoring each other.

Avoidance from erica rot on Vimeo.

How do you feel about the animation? Have you experienced this detachment or avoidance in your own life? Would you say this aptly depicts aspects of society’s addiction to the internet, video games, smartphones, and technology in general?

Why is any of this important?

Whether people realize it or not technology is having an effect on them, so much so that some people may have an internet addiction. Research into this new and growing problem shows that internet addiction has physical, mental and emotional effects. These include “rewiring” brains, causing feelings of anxiety when not online, and ignoring responsibilities – and relationships. Internet addiction can cause someone to withdraw from friends and family.

Excessive internet and technology use does not necessarily equate to internet addiction. However, people need to recognize how their constant use changes the dynamics of relationships with others and has a variety of affects. People can end up feeling alone even when in the same room with another person.

Adolescents are possibly open to more harm because mental, emotional, and physical developments are at their height during the teen years and continue into their 20s. They should be learning healthy socialization skills, etc., but this, other life skills and learning processes are affected by constant connection to technology, the internet, smartphones, video games, etc.

When Help Is Needed: Wilderness Therapy

As said, internet and technology overuse is only one aspect of internet addiction, but should it happen, more than will power to overcome a bad habit might be called for. Internet addiction can be accompanied by other issues, such as depression or low self-esteem. It’s a complex situation that requires attention to each issue making finding a program that’s able to do so very important. Programs have been set up to address internet addiction specifically, but wilderness therapy has been helpful as well.

Pacific Quest, a holistic wilderness therapy program in Hawaii, has been able to help those adolescents and young adults feeling depressed, anxious, and trapped by their internet, video game, and tech addictions.

Pacific Quest is a well-rounded program that aims to empower students by teaching them life skills, healthy habits, and ways to cope with their issues and everyday pressures, such as the internet. It’s about learning to live a healthy, balanced life.

Parent's Guide to Internet Addiction & Overuse

College Transition and Internet Addiction

The internet has overtaken college campuses as it has the workplace. College students use it for research, communication with classmates and professors, and other educational activities as well as being a means of entertainment. When considering the transition from home atmosphere to new independence along with several other factors, it’s possible for college to cultivate internet addiction in young adults.

The Freshman 10 and Other Worries

These days it’s not just putting on 10 pounds that has become a worry for college freshman. There’s a wide assortment of things that could cause concern as they transition to a new way of life.

When in college, young people’s time isn’t as structured. Classes account for twelve to sixteen hours per week, and the rest of that time is students’ own to read, study, hang out with friends, join clubs, or explore the new environment outside their campus walls. Another possibility is they forgo all of those other activities and concentrate on a means to escape any new pressures: the internet. Freedom from parental control is a teen’s dream, but subsequent transitional issues could lead to issues like internet addiction.

Escapism is part of the allure of internet, so it makes sense that college students would be susceptible to it. College is a major change, and some students may find themselves struggling and with a desire to escape college stressors. There are pressures for making top grades, fulfilling parental expectations, and facing fierce competition for good jobs upon graduation . Socially, they may find it difficult to find and make new friends, especially if they chose to go to a college far from home and thus won’t run into people they already know. They can turn to the internet to hide from difficulties and feelings of fear, anxiety, or depression falling into things like online gaming, which is a popular activity among young people. Video games are engaging virtual worlds that keep them both entertained and distracted but also offer a sense of belonging because online gaming can provide a sense of friendship with other gamers.

Internet over-use poses multiple problems. It’s well established that using the Internet too much can lead to a sedentary lifestyle and a decline in physical fitness that can result in additional weight gain, all of which have serious health implications. Many suffer with carpal tunnel syndrome, eye strain, and headaches. Additionally, researchers have found that the light from computer screens may affect circadian rhythms, creating a risk factor for sleep deprivation and insomnia, which can lead to depression.

Signs of Possible Internet Addiction

Internet addiction is characterized by more than excessive internet use. There’s also lack of sleep or excessive fatigue, declining grades, not caring about relationships with friends or significant others, withdrawing from previously enjoyed campus social activities and events, general apathy, edginess, or irritability when NOT on the Internet, lying about how much time they spend online and their activities, and rationalizing that what they learn on the Internet is superior to their classes. Some students may try to quit on their own if threatened with possible expulsion because of poor grades, but as the internet is a necessary tool to complete homework, they can easy slip right back into the same addictive patterns. In the worst case scenario, students may not realize the problem until consequences worsen, such as being kicked out of college.

Tackling College Struggles & Internet Addiction

Tackling internet or tech overuse requires several changes and a lot of self-discipline. As the situation worsens and becomes more of an addiction, additional help and support may be required.

▪     Lifestyle changes. It is often difficult for people suffering from a psychological issue to make lifestyle changes on their own. However, a healthy diet, a good sleep schedule, and regular exercise can go a long way towards facilitating recovery. Staying active in non-Internet activities is also important.

▪     Individual therapy. There are several models of therapy, such as psychotherapy and cognitive-behavioral therapy. The best choice is usually up to a person’s preferences, but cognitive-behavioral therapy is a popular approach for Internet addiction.

▪     Group therapy. Group therapy provides a safe, supportive space for a group of people suffering from similar issues to share their struggles and journey with others who can empathize and offer insight from their own experiences.

▪     In-patient treatment. In-patient treatment provides a high level of support and treatment with access to on-site doctors and the support of other patients. It is often used when out-patient methods are not effective because it is an opportunity to work through issues in a place that separates people from the source of their struggles. For internet addiction, that can be incredibly helpful since computers and the internet are a regular aspect of modern life.

▪     Wilderness therapy. Similar to in-patient treatment in that these programs are Pacific Quest Group Therapytime spent away from trouble sources, wilderness therapy uses nature to spur change and can place a bigger focus on whole-body wellness and more tangible accomplishments. Many people turn to wilderness therapy for the enriching environment it provides.

Pacific Quest wilderness therapy for adolescents and young adult in Hawaii is one such program. “At Pacific Quest, we have seen great success treating internet addiction using our Sustainable Growth™ model, which focuses on the mind-body connection, the importance of nature, and the individual’s place within the community, as well as the essential aspects of clinical care.”

Pacific Quest incorporates healthy living, a high level of clinical care with both individual and group therapy time, horticulture therapy, and other aspects that create and reinforce well-being in order to help young people through their addictions and behavior issues. It’s a complete program that can address internet addiction as well as any underlying issues.

If you’d like to learn more about internet addiction and how Pacific Quest’s wilderness therapy program can help, please contact us at 808-937-5806.

MORE RESOURCES

We are frequently discussing the topic of Internet addiction on our Family Resource Blog.

Parent's Guide to Internet Addiction & Overuse

The Latest Smartphone App Craze Causing Feelings of Addiction

Smartphones are as much a phone as they are mini computers and hand-held gaming devices. It’s likely most smartphones owners have downloaded and played at least one game – perhaps even getting sucked into one of the app crazes that’s happened in the last few years.

Words with Friends
Angry Birds
Draw Something
Candy Crush

Now add Kim Kardashian: Hollywood to the list.

Developed around her life, the game is about figuratively keeping up with the Kardashians by climbing the celeb social ladder. As described by Yahoo Tech, “… [to stay] within the Kardashians’ social circle requires constant attention to wardrobe, social standing, romantic life, media presence, and accumulation of wealth. The game is structured to keep [players] furiously tapping [their] screen (and into [their] bank account) in order to earn virtual cash, energy, and special Kardashian branded K stars that are used to “charm” people, to help [them] rise from E-lister to A-lister (just like Kim!).”

It sounds silly, but players of all ages are quickly getting sucked in leaving them feeling addicted. Released only last month, it has over 5 million downloads. While it’s free to get, in-app purchases are costing players a lot. Within 5 days of its release, the game’s developer earned over $1.6 million, which shows just how much people are spending – purposely, accidentally, and perhaps unknowingly – just to get ahead in the game. Parents are finding their children in distress, and adults are questioning themselves.

How Is This Rapid Game Addiction Possible?

Self-control is something more easily talked about than done, and clever design and interest can be enough for people to put self-control – and logic – aside. Without realizing it, a seemingly innocuous habit, like playing a simple game, can become more when the right conditions are in place.

A psychologist’s breakdown of the Hollywood app reveals that everything from the graphics, colors, activity type, and structure lures players in keeping them engaged. Levels are initially easy, so progress is quick. Players get instant gratification from it and from the virtual cash received by constantly tapping the screen. Brains are wired to like that which gives satisfaction. The game also makes players wait to continue for resources to replenish, which is where those in-app purchases factor in. People don’t want to wait for things, so they make a purchase or two. As people invest more time into a game, the more difficult it is to quit. The result? Possible internet and game addiction.

Addressing Internet and Smartphone Addiction

If adults are getting lost in smartphone games, then young people are just as susceptible – if not more so in part due to their still-developing minds. Also, today’s celebrity-obsessed culture leaves many wanting “to get rich and famous,” and reality TV makes it seem possible. Thus, much about Kim and her family appeals to a young audience, and those aspects appear in the game.

What happens when things go too far? Depending on the person, a weekend detox can be enough. However, others may need more. Games offer an escape, which is as aspect of any addiction. Some adolescents or young adults with a video game or internet addiction may need to address underlying issues that may be fueling it.

Pacific Quest wilderness therapy excursion

Wilderness therapy, like Pacific Quest, can be the solution for addressing the variousaspects of these addictions. Wilderness therapy offers young people an environment where they can break away from technology, be involved in different activities that don’t require a smartphone or computer – and learn to enjoy them, and also get the therapeutic help to get them back on track. They obtain understanding in individual and group therapy and learn life skills that enable them to better cope with the technological temptations back home. The holistic approach at Pacific Quest wilderness therapy tries to offer a more complete perspective on how negative habits have mental, emotional, and physical consequences. With time at Pacific Quest wilderness therapy, internet- or game-addicted teens can find hope of a more balanced life.

Parent's Guide to Internet Addiction & Overuse

Do You Know the Symptoms of Teenage Internet Addiction?

The Internet is a vital part of many different industries, as well as to our everyday lives. However, the Internet can also be harmful. Internet addiction is a growing concern, and teenage Internet addiction has become more and more widespread.

Perhaps you have a teenage child, and you’ve been suspecting that he or she is showing signs of teenage Internet addiction. Here at Pacific Quest, we believe that Internet addictions are serious because of the potential consequences. It’s important to identify them as soon as possible so you can get your teen the help that he or she needs.

To help, we’ve compiled a list of symptoms of teenagers who are struggling with some sort of issue, like internet addiction, as well as some information on how wilderness therapy can provide your son or daughter with healing from these addictive behaviors.

Growing Tolerance or Obsession

Has your teen demonstrated a growing tolerance level or an obsession with the Internet? Just like any addiction, an Internet addiction is recognized by a need for the next “high.” It’s similar to the way that alcoholics continue to increase their alcohol intake, or the way that illegal drug users frequently move on to more dangerous drugs. When a half an hour spent online no longer produces the desired physical and mental effects, an addicted teen will continuously increase their Internet time.

Frustration or Anger

For someone who suffers from an Internet addiction, not being able to get your next “fix” often results in frustration. However, over time and depending on how intense the addiction is, this frustration can escalate to anger or even violence. Perhaps you have observed this behavior in your teen whenever you’ve planned a family activity that would pull him or her away from the Internet for a period of time.

Isolation

Addiction is often a lonely experience. The main reason for this is because the addiction – whether it’s alcohol, drugs or the Internet – becomes more important to the addict than anything. Have you noticed your child dropping out of activities at school, or spending more time away from friends and family in order to spend time online?

Dishonesty

It is impossible for an addict to balance his or her life for very long. Eventually, there will be negative repercussions for the addictive behavior. You might notice your teen’s grades slipping, or he or she might fall asleep in class. If you’ve tried grounding your child for these behaviors, it’s likely that your teen will go to great lengths to find some way to be online. When confronted, most teens deny that they’ve broken the rules, or they come up with a story to cover up their deception.

Wilderness Therapy – Helping Teens Find Balance

Pacific Quest wilderness group therapy

Pacific Quest’s wilderness therapy is unlike any other teenage therapeutic program. Your child will not only learn to break the chains of Internet addiction, but he or she will also re-learn how valuable honest, real-life relationships truly are. By being separated from the
addiction, your teen will learn to identify it for what it really is, while also cultivating an understanding for how harmful it was.

The wilderness therapy program at Pacific Quest is more than just another type of therapy. It is a life-changing journey of self-discovery that will produce amazing results in your teen. Not only will your child learn to embrace the necessary tools to make better decisions, but he or she will gain the understanding and knowledge that’s required to carry this new-found wisdom into adulthood as well.

If you would like more information about Pacific Quest, we would love to talk with you. Please contact us today.

Parent's Guide to Internet Addiction & Overuse

Internet Addiction: More than Overusing the Online World

Man at computer crop

Much of the power wielded by addiction comes from the seemingly innocuous nature of whatever you’re using or doing. Because of the ubiquity of cyberspace in our everyday lives, most of us expect to use the internet for a sizable portion of the day – both for work and for play. Oftentimes, this use is quite productive as well as necessary.

The above reality, however, can easily start you or someone you love on the road to internet addiction. If you have certain underlying issues, this propensity is highlighted and puts you at greater risk for compulsive internet use. If you find yourself using the internet to the detriment of other things in your life, then the time being spent is unproductive and you may need help.

Common Misuses of the Internet

It’s important not to think of internet addiction as mere “overuse.” For example, if you school work online, then there are times when you need to be on almost nonstop during a project period. The problem arises when internet use becomes compulsive, to the detriment of other daily activities. Consider a handful of common progenitors of internet misuse:

  1. Online Dating and Social Media Interaction: the presence of a plethora of social networking sites can contribute to gross overuse of cyberspace. If you find yourself compulsively checking Facebook status updates every few minutes throughout the day, and constantly making alterations to your social media profiles, then it may be time to step back and evaluate the time you’re spending with virtual friends versus the time you’re spending with real-life friends.
  2. Cybersex Compulsion: this is one of the biggest problems facing people online. Studies show that immersion in online fantasy role-playing games, chat rooms and other forms of adult entertainment have a deleterious effect on how you deal with a partner outside of the virtual, idealized world. Self-evaluations can be difficult here, and if you suspect that you or someone close to you is suffering from this addiction, there is help available – without commitment.
  3. Dating and social media aren’t the only forms of internet addiction; if you’re constantly perusing e-commerce sites like Amazon and eBay, then an evaluation might be in order as you notice your finances start to take unsustainable hits. Gambling, online slots – even stock-trading – can be signs you’re not in control.
  4. Gaming: Although this refers mostly to teenagers, a sizable portion of the adult population is adversely affected by an online compulsion for gaming. With so many fantastic games on the market and many of them requiring a full-investment of time, gaming is an addiction that can creep up surreptitiously as your allotted time goes from a few hours a day to half a day and even more. Playing any game online for 10 hours a day is simply unsustainable (even for an adolescent with fewer responsibilities than most adults) and is a sure sign that help is in order.

Getting the Help You Need with Wilderness Therapy

Pacific Quest wilderness therapy program understands that online addiction is a serious issue that may be a sign of an underlying condition – such as depression, for example. In teenagers and young adults, it can contribute to a lack of social growth and ability to deal with real-world problems. That’s why Pacific Quest places such emphasis on robust outdoor activities and interactive exercises to help you or a loved one regain your social health and sense of life-balance. To learn more about how wilderness therapy has successfully treated adolescents and young adults with internet addiction, please contact us.

Parent's Guide to Internet Addiction & Overuse

The Plight for Girls Addicted to Social Media

Adolescence marks the developmental stage of rapid and intense emotional and physical changes in girls. For these teen girls there is an even increased value placed on peer acceptance and approval and a heightened attention to external influences and social messages about cultural norms. Body image and related self-concept emerge as significant factors associated with health and well being during this developmental phase. Negative correlations have been statistically proven between media usage/addiction and social well being. Video, video games, email, social media, text/instant messages, and phone and video chat all constitute media. The 24/7 nature of social media and Internet addiction places huge pressures on girls, which in turn can lead to significant emotional issues and disorders.

Self-esteem Linked to Appearance

Social media and popular mainstream culture promotes specific images and standards of beauty and attractiveness that contradict good health practices and young girls’ ability to achieve a specific body type or image. It’s uniformly accepted that the U.S. society places great value on looks and exalts images unachievable by most. Unfortunately, the use of social media is not a healthy way for girls to seek acceptance or validation.

It seems that an entire generation of adolescent girls will fail to fulfill their professional potential because they are suffering from low self-esteem about their appearance. Why? Because one in four females aged between 11 and 17 are weighed down by pressure to conform to the ‘ideal notion’ of how they should look. “Whether it presents as a lack of confidence about their ability, their body or their worth, these deep-seated anxieties really hold girls back from achieving their potential.”

Many young girls believe physical appearance is a major part of their self-esteem, and their body image is a major contributor to sense of self. The experience of body dissatisfaction can lead to poor health habits and low self-esteem. These negative feelings may contribute to a higher prevalence of depressive symptoms and lower self-esteem among girls and affect health behaviors associated with poor eating habits, dieting, depression and anxiety, and eating disorders. “According to the National Women’s Resource Center, more than 7 million American women are affected by eating disorders each year, and 1,000 of those will die from complications of anorexia. Up to 80 percent of female college students have admitted to binge eating, a predecessor to bulimia.”

Differentiating Eating Disorders

There’s no single type of eating disorder as habits present themselves in various ways:

  • Anorexia nervosa is self-starvation. Girls with anorexia have an intense fear of body weight, and eat very little even though they are thin.


  • Bulimia nervosa is characterized by cycles of binge eating and purging. Girls with bulimia fear body fat although their weight may be normal.


  • Binge eating disorder means eating large amounts of food in a short period of time without being able to stop when full. Bingeing is often accompanied by feeling out of control and followed by guilt or depression.
  • Disordered eating refers to troublesome eating behaviors, such as restrictive dieting, binging, or purging, which occur less frequently or are less severe than those required to meet the full criteria for an eating disorder diagnosis.

Wilderness Therapy Can Help

The wilderness therapy program at Pacific Quest offers a unique whole-person, nature-based model for healing from the effects of the various addictions associated with today’s social media surge. Pacific Quest uses the healing power of nature and practices complete wellness, with qualified staff working together on every aspect. One reason Pacific Quest works is because it has an individualized, comprehensive and neuro-developmentally informed approach: Everyone is different. At Pacific Quest we can design strategies that reach our students and move them through a deep and lasting process of change.

Pacific Quest wilderness therapy girlsWe are passionate about our social mission and want to continue to help young girls and women develop a positive relationship with their bodies. Students have discovered the healing powers of horticulture therapy (HT), a formal practice involving the use of plants, the garden and horticultural activities to “promote well-being for its participant.” The benefits of horticulture therapy can take many forms, from physical and cognitive to spiritual and emotional. The garden uses horticultural principles to teach clients about food security, provide skills training, and nurture self-confidence and healthy leisure activities. The use of sustainable growth, horticultural therapy and gardening, focus on health and wellness, and peer culture, complement the individual treatment plan providing the foundation for developing personal awareness and cultivating tools for personal development teens and adolescents with eating disorders.

In many cases, cognitive-behavioral psychotherapy techniques are very effective in addressing Internet addiction issues being faced by our students. This approach helps the teenagers examine their anxiety, anticipate situations in which it is likely to occur, and understand its effects. This can also help them recognize the exaggerated nature of their fears and develop a corrective approach to the problem. They learn to replace negative and unproductive thought patterns with more realistic and useful ones.  Treatment often involves facing one’s fears as part of the pathway to recovery. Interpersonal therapy and problem-solving therapy are also effective.

Contact Pacific Quest to find out more about our dynamic medium for therapeutic growth and whole person wellness.

Isolation: Side of Effects of Technology & Internet Addiction

One positive aspects of modern technology is how easily it enables us to connect with other people – whether it’s texting or playing an Xbox game with someone in Tokyo. In some ways, we’ve never been more social.

However this incredible power does have a down side: isolation. It seems contradictory, but true socialization has taken a toll. Something about talking to another person face-to-face is less natural to us. We’d rather text something than talk, and it’s not uncommon to see a group of people together but hardly looking at each other because they’re each using their smartphones.

We think we’re socializing, but in many ways, it all may be separating us from the real interaction we crave leading to feelings of isolation. Video games illustrate this problem well.

Connected to the Computer, Disconnected from the Real World

Today’s video games, like World of Warcraft, Final Fantasy, and Call of Duty, testify to technology’s advancement. Many are incredibly vivid, complex virtual worlds that draw millions of people into playing. They’re highly interactive with vast environments populated by a variety of characters with specific backgrounds, abilities, and duties from which players choose. Players can interact with other players by teaming up their characters to go on quests or into battles together. They communicate via headsets, which is necessary in order to strategize and accomplish a common goal. There is much to explore and do in these games even if a player is on his own, and getting lost and caught up in all of it can be easy. However, hours or days are easily lost, too, especially as these games are designed for long-term play.Pacific Quest wilderness therapy

“Who cares?” you say. These gamers are still interacting. What’s really lost if they’re forming connection that happen to be through a game? The problem is that time online is time away from family and friends who aren’t a county, state, or continent away. It’s time not spent productively attending to professional and personal responsibilities. These things cannot be taken for granted and be expected to be there waiting when you’re ready to step away from the computer. But as the video game takes on importance, little else matters.

Real relationships are hard to come by (think about how many people you consider a confidant) because they take time to build, and virtual friendships can’t truly replace them. People can feel isolated when they’re not online because they may have let real relationships crumble or realize they’ve not accomplished all they’ve wanted due to their online activity.

Wilderness Therapy for Video Game & Internet Addiction

Excessive internet use or game play carries with it a variety of issues, and feeling isolated is only one of them. If someone has few friends and feels alone, online activities and “friends” can fill a void. In this case, he may be additionally dealing with depression, anxiety, or social issues. For others depression may settle in later when they’ve realized what gaming has cost them – relationships, money, a job.

It takes time to unravel the issues behind video game and internet addiction, but wilderness therapy has been an invaluable resource for adolescents and young adults struggling with them. Pacific Quest wilderness therapy program uses a holistic, clinical approach, which means that students get individual and group therapy to tackle their specific issues and also learn how to take care of themselves. Part of that includes learning to be part of their immediate community through activities like organic gardening without technology to distract them. They learn to cultivate deep, real connections unlike the superficial ones aided by technology.

Problems shouldn’t need to escalate to the point of addiction to make us realize that we’re missing out on the vivid world around us.

Parent's Guide to Internet Addiction & Overuse

A Mom’s Contract with her Teenage Son: iPhone and Life Lessons

Smartphones are compact computers. With them owners can contact anyone at any time through calling, texting, and private messaging or posting on social media. They enable online search just as any other computer. That is a lot of power at someone’s fingertips, especially for an adolescent who’s beginning to test the limits of growing independence.

Perhaps it was with that in mind that a mom gave her then 13-year-old son a new iPhone but also gave him a contract, a set of rules to follow if he wanted to keep it. This story may be from 2012, but it’s still a good illustration of so many things – internet addiction, smartphone use, responsibility, common sense, social etiquette, and life lessons.

In 18 points, the mother succinctly addresses everything about having access to such a powerful piece of technology beginning with who actually own the phone (she does).

Adolescents, the Internet, & Smartphones

Cyber-bullying, pornography addiction, internet addiction. It’s quite a varied list, but each has been aided by the internet and smartphones just as much as face-to-face interaction and communications have been hampered.

7. Do not involve yourself in conversations that are hurtful to others. Be a good friend first or stay the hell out of the crossfire.
9. …Censor yourself.”

It seems like common sense to not text things you wouldn’t normally say in front of that person or someone’s parents. However, that’s exactly what people do – adults and teens alike. This hits right at one of the issues of the internet: the power of anonymity. Even if using your own account, you feel much more empowered to say things to someone else because distance creates an invisible wall that “protects” you. So-called Twitter wars ensue, or comment threads quickly deteriorate as people “trash” or pick on each other.

She also cautions against sending certain private photos. “12. Cyberspace is vast and more powerful than you.”

“14. Leave your phone home sometimes… It is not alive or an extension of you. Learn to live without it. Be bigger and more powerful than…fear of missing out.”

A sign of internet addiction is emotional attachment to technology. Adolescents today have no reference for daily life without a cell phone, so it’s about actively learning to be without it. With internet addiction, people also lose touch with the people and activity around them. Saying, “[#13] Don’t take a zillion pictures and videos… Live your experiences,” this mom takes a shot at social media and the obsession surrounding it.  While she doesn’t mention online gaming, it still fits; the virtual world will never replace reality. “17. Keep your eyes up. See the world happening around you.”

Wilderness Therapy: When the Internet Takes Over

Most people rely on and enjoy technology. That’s OK. For some, the internet becomes a crutch or comfort laying the groundwork for addiction. Research indicates internet addiction is the result of other factors, such as depression. To overcome the grasp of technology, the underlying issues must be resolved. Some adolescents or young adults may find the best help comes through a wilderness therapy program like Pacific Quest.

Pacific Quest’s therapeutic model is based on personalized clinical care with a holistic approach. Each student’s needs are assessed then addressed during individual and topic-specific group therapy time. The underlying issues for their internet addiction can be discovered, discussed, and worked on to be resolved. Pacific Quest wilderness therapy also includes horticulture therapy, which is a tool for getting students active and learning life skills like goal-setting in a calming community setting. Just as with that teenager’s mom, Pacific Quest’s hope is that they provide lessons and skills that can be carried forward into life beyond the program, so students can be successful for years to come.

Parent's Guide to Internet Addiction & Overuse

Escapist Behavior Internet & Video Game Addiction

In recent decades video games have become a fixation with young people, especially as the video game industry expands into the mobile internet space, creating video game addiction. One of the issues of this is it can be very anti-social. It can also cause people to invest a lot of time into something that could be interfering with other goals in life or regular work. In some ways, video game addiction resembles drug addiction in how it consumes a person’s life and time plus how it affects human relationships.

Video Game Lifestyle & Addiction

Playing video games incessantly instead of working or doing something constructive can become a depressing narrative. Video games are not necessarily bad for people, but they can use up a lot of time and begin to take over a person’s life interrupting work, healthy eating, and sleeping. The rewards for investing so much time playing video games are improved scores and competitiveness; the costs are lost valuable time and real connections. Like a drug, at first it takes little to be entertained. It’s a recreation that evolves into an escape from the responsibilities of the real world.

Video games have shortened attention span similarly to television: Both are hypnotizing and an escape. However, video games offer an extra dimension that television doesn’t: participation. Since you become much more involved with a video game than a television show, it’s easy for your eyes to remain glued to the screen for hours. This activity creates physical as well as psychological issues. Its sedentary nature has many effects on our body – from blood circulation to weight gain and body aches, and excessive screen time strains eyes and can cause headaches.

Like Gambling

Though money isn’t necessarily involved, gaming mirrors aspects of gambling as both can potentially engross someone for hours, time that could’ve been used doing something productive or proactive – volunteering, learning something new, working, studying. Even though playing video games requires decision-making, those decisions have no application or effect in the real world. Much effort is wasted to be champion of a game that means nothing to others outside the gaming world, like employers or family. Like gambling, video game or internet addiction can affect personal and professional relationships and also mental and physical health as strain increases. The end result of both can be a very empty feeling.

A Fresh Perspective through Wilderness Therapy

Pacific Quest wilderness therapy health wellness

If you find that you’ve escaped too far into the video game world to the point that it is affecting relationships, school or career, an outdoor wilderness therapy program may help. Pacific Quest in Hawaii uses a holistic approach to point struggling adolescents and young adults toward healthier lifestyle choices and a new life. They learn the principles of Whole Person Wellness: improving nutrition, sleep, movement, and the connection between body and mind – ideas lost in the midst of video game or any addiction.

Pacific Quest wilderness therapy offers individualized clinical care and also incorporates horticultural therapy in its therapeutic model. Gardening places students in caregiver roles. They learn responsibility and goal-setting that produce tangible rewards for their time and efforts – fruits and vegetables that help feed themselves and others, which is unlike the inconsequential rewards of video games. Pacific Quest is guided by principles of healthy community living, which involves collaborating with others to reach personal and public goals. It’s all about learning to fit into a larger group and having access to mentoring, support and feedback. A real community is better than a virtual one. The Pacific Quest experience is considered a rite of passage in which clients leave their old identities behind, and they can replace feelings of emptiness with those of self-worth based on real accomplishment. Escaping in video games is no longer necessary.

Parent's Guide to Internet Addiction & Overuse

Did You Know June Was Internet Safety Month?

Having an internet safety month seems silly because the internet is now an everyday tool with which most of us are comfortable using. We don’t think twice about logging on or the information we may come across. However, it’s important to remember that the internet is powerful in what it enables us and others to do.

To help remind us to be mindful of our internet habits, the National Cyber Security Alliance, a non-profit public-private group focused on cybersecurity awareness and education, uses this time to encourage all internet users to, “Stop. Think. Connect,” each time they log on.

Children, Adolescents & the Internet

Internet safety month is as much about what adults should to protect themselves, their information, and their computers as it is about teaching children about it – from security to the stuff they may find while surfing the net. Understanding better online safety is begins with good judgment and behavior that is exercised daily, all year long.

Now that school is out with several months of summer freedom ahead, children and adolescents will likely be spending much more time online or playing video games. It’s such an easy way to be entertained with all the content, games, and social interaction the Web has to offer. Even if it’s “just Facebook,” it is important for kids of all ages to be aware of their actions. For example, cyberbullying has become an all too common occurrence. Children are verbally abusing each other whether they’re instigating it themselves, succumbing to peer pressure to send hurtful messages, or perpetuating the cycle by sharing the information instead of trying to stop it.

Another reason to teach internet safety is because research, by the Pew Institute or other sources, shows that the vast majority of children have access to the internet in their own homes. Also increasing numbers of adolescents have their own computers and even their own smartphones. Unless parents are vigilant, put safeguards in place, and spend time educating their kids about internet safety, these children have easy access to every corner of the Web.

Internet Addiction and Troubled Adolescents

Pacific Quest wilderness therapy adolescent internet addiction

If your adolescent is spending extra time online this summer, it may be fine. It’s when online activities interfere with emotional, intellectual, and social development that help should be sought. Even if it’s just reading, the endless supply of links can occupy a person for hours, along with social media and online games. Get teens involved in other activities to avoid excessive time online.

Internet addiction is characterized by a dependence on the internet and computers. Internet-addicted adolescents exhibit signs of preoccupation or anxiety when away from their computers and irritation when online activities are interrupted. They forego other hobbies in favor of being online, withdraw from family and friends, and experience physical side effects from hours spent sitting in front of a computer.

Several solutions exist for treating internet addiction – from a self-imposed digital detox to programs designed to help you deal with addictive behaviors. The trouble with most cases of internet addiction is their root in other issues, such as anxiety and depression or low self-esteem. These must be treated along with the dependence on technology in order to see long-term success. Pacific Quest wilderness therapy program has been able to help troubled adolescents and young adults in the journey to understanding and recovery. An individualized clinical care program is key to helping each student whether it’s for internet addiction or adoption issues, etc. A wilderness therapy program gets young people away from the temptation of technology, so they learn to function without it.

Prevention is the best medicine. This summer prepare your kids by teaching them internet safety as well as other activities to stimulate them until next school year rolls around.