Smartphone Addiction

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

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

Smartphones: Sources of Stress & Internet Addiction

SmartphoneHow do you feel when you get a text message or a new Facebook notification? If you’d say “anxious” or “stressed,” then you’re not alone: Preliminary research indicates that some smartphone users are feeling higher levels of stress due to smartphone activity. Why is this?

Smartphone Ownership

Approximately 91% of American adults own some type of cell phone, and as of 2013, new data (Pew Research Center Internet & American Life Project) reveals that the majority of American adults now own a smartphone. As ubiquitous as smartphones have become, it’s possible to see how a trend in reports of related stress and anxiety could develop.

How does this apply to teens and young adults? The average age for getting a first cell phone is now 13. Cell phone technology keeps progressing towards smartphones, and as older generations become incredibly affordable as soon as the latest model is available, it’s easier for parents to get their kids smartphones. Also, teen’s today are tech savvy and to have anything less than a smartphone isn’t “cool.” So if adults are feeling the smartphone strain, then it’s likely adolescents are, too.

The Smartphone-Stress Findings

Though a small sample, one British study included college students, retail industry employees, and government workers. Findings showed that using smartphones for work purposes didn’t cause as much strain as the social obligations that smartphones presented, such as constantly managing social networks. Higher usage for social purposes correlated with increased smartphone user stress. Considering all the social apps, games, and instant access, it’s no wonder that smartphones are increasing stress levels – and self-described internet addiction by nearly two-thirds of teens and over a third of adults.

Wilderness Therapy: Helping Troubled Adolescents and Young Adults Overcome Internet Addiction, Stress

Research about internet addiction, smartphones, and the resulting issues brings up a lot of information and articles. Pathological internet use is beyond spending too much time online. Research relates increased levels of anxiety, withdrawal from friends and family, and a drop in grades or work performance as some of the signs of internet addiction.

More studies are required to find out the true connection between smartphones, internet technology, and stress and anxiety. It may be that people who are already experiencing a form of anxiety or depression turn to the internet for an outlet rather than the internet being the main cause of their issue with depression, anxiety, or stress. Still, it is important to realize these issues are real and definitely play into each other.

Through programs like Pacific Quest wilderness therapy, students are offered a chance to get to the root causes of their issues – from internet addiction to substance abuse, mood regulation issues, and family conflicts – and then begin to understand them. Pacific Quest wilderness program incorporates horticulture therapy, which has been shown to help calm participants, increase self-confidence, and overall life satisfaction. Anxiety and stress are decreased through time spent in and interacting with nature. Another great feature is that troubled adolescents or young adults dealing with internet addiction can have time to get away from the source of their stress. Wilderness therapy is a time for students to put down the technology and smartphones and to get back to themselves.

Constantly Connected: Effects of Internet and Smartphones on College Students

Spurred by the observation that college students are seemingly glued to their smartphones, Kent State University researchers conducted a study of 500 university undergraduate students to determine what effect, if any, smartphone use may have.

The study equally represented freshman, sophomores, juniors, and seniors, and the group reported a wide variety of majors. For the survey, researchers recorded students’ daily cell phone use as well as clinical measurements of their anxiety and life satisfaction (the technical term for happiness). Lastly, researchers also looked at students’ school records for their cumulative grade point average (GPA). The results?

Cell phone use showed statistically significant relationships to GPA, anxiety, and happiness. Cell phone use had a negative correlation to GPA but was positively related to anxiety. Findings also showed a positive relationship between happiness and GPA and – understandably – a negative relationship between happiness and anxiety. In layman’s terms, those of the 500 students who reported higher smartphone use had a lower GPA, tended to be more anxious, and have lower life satisfaction when compared to the students who used their cell phone less frequently. (It would make sense that bad grades would make someone feel anxious and unhappy.)

Why did the researchers choose to look at GPA, anxiety, and happiness? Well, they’re all necessary for student success. So, if a student is spending too much time fiddling with her smartphone, then she may be more likely to have lower grades and suffer from anxiety.

The Age of Smartphones and Internet Addiction

Smartphone use is essentially internet use because the internet and the technology used to access it are what give smartphones their computer-like abilities. An important note is that internet addiction is different than excessive internet use. While excessive use can have negative consequences, as shown by the Kent State study and other research, internet addiction presents other unique issues:

  • Withdrawal from family and friends
  • Neglect of personal hygiene &/or personal responsibilities, such as work, school, or household chores
  • Loss of interest in other hobbies, etc.
  • Anxiety when away from computers/internet
  • Anger and irritation when internet activities are interrupted

What Can Help – Digital Detoxing, Wilderness Therapy

Some people are able to overcome their technology and internet addiction themselves. This may be especially true when there is mainly a matter of over-use. However, some research is showing that internet addiction is rooted in other issues, such as depression. This means that people, such as troubled adolescents and young adults, are turning to the internet to escape issues that are bothering them. In this case, a simple digital detox, the setting aside of computer and internet technology completely for several days, may not work.

Wilderness therapy may be able to help the young people who have developed an internet or video game addiction because they’re not sure how to properly deal with other issues in their lives. Pacific Quest wilderness therapy program incorporates traditional individual and group therapy into its therapeutic model as well as horticulture therapy. This unique blend of intervention in a safe community setting enables troubled young adults to open up about their struggles.

A wilderness program like Pacific Quest offers young people, like college students, an opportunity to get away from the source of their troubles (smartphones and internet) plus the resources to get help, understand underlying issues, learn how to cope in a healthy way, and develop life skills. The internet – and smartphones – is a fact of modern life. If we know more about ourselves, we can learn to balance technology and be happier and healthier.

Technology and the Pressure to Be Cool

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

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

The Trouble with Technology

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

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

It’s about Balance

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

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

Helping Troubled Adolescents

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

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

Internet Addictions in Review: 2013

2013 saw a huge rise in the social awareness of Internet Addiction as an actual classified “disorder”. The average American started to realize that it’s really not just about, ‘Oh, I just use my iPhone too much’. It’s really become a very pathological sensitivity. It’s actually now classified a compulsive disorder- something that you’re not able to control- that is now jeopardizing more and more lives.

2013 also saw the first hospital in the USA to treat severe internet addiction. Bradford Regional Medical Center, in Pennsylvania now has a 10-day inpatient program. Patients admitted to the voluntary behavioral health treatment center must first undergo 72 hours at least without Internet use, followed by therapy sessions and educational seminars to “help them get their Internet compulsion under control.”

Ding = Dopamine

We are currently a society fueled by the rapid-fire connectivity of pc’s, tablets, Ipads, iPhones, smartphones… obsessive internet behavior has basically become a cultural norm. At a certain point, an over reliance on internet—and the rabid need to distract oneself with online video gaming, shopping, tweeting, scrolling, “liking,” and blogging at all hours of the day and night—morphs into an addiction.

Addiction implies a pattern of use that you can’t stop. The compulsion continues, even though time spent online is no longer productive or enjoyable. An addict, by nature, is seeking a rush of dopamine, the neurotransmitter that is associated with feelings of reward and pleasure. The rush one is now conditioned to get every time they hear a “ding” on their phone or computer. It is a critical aspect as far as what separates addiction from just a bad habit

2013:Diagnostic and Statistical Manual for Mental Disorders (DSM-V)

Signaling a slow but steady change in how psychologists are defining variants of addictive behavior in recent years “Internet Gaming Disorder” did make it into 2013’s DSM-V (the “psyche bible”) as a condition for further study.

The DSM is “the manual used by clinicians and researchers to diagnose and classify mental disorders. The American Psychiatric Association (APA) will publish DSM-5 in 2013, culminating a 14-year revision process”.

In the diagnosis, the criteria are limited to “internet gaming” and do not include general use of the Internet, online gambling, or social media.

However, by listing internet Gaming Disorder in DSM’5 Section III, the APA hopes to encourage research to determine whether the condition should be added to the manual as a disorder. Progress, not perfection.

Review: Internet Addiction criteria

With 2013 studies showing that the average American teen is clocking in at over seven hours of daily Internet use, it might be useful to review what is commonly accepted as the five key criteria of Internet addiction:

1. Excess: The Internet becomes the most important activity in the teen or young adult’s life, affecting feelings, behaviors and thoughts.

2. Mood modification: The teen or young adult receives an emotional “buzz” from using the Internet.

3. Tolerance: They become acclimatized, requiring increasing amounts of Internet time to get that “buzz.”

4. Withdrawal symptoms: Abruptly ceasing Internet activity will cause them emotional or physical distress.

5. Relapse: The addict tends to fall back into the same behavior very easily, even after some abstinence or control.

When these types of behavior are seen, it’s really only the tip of the iceberg. You’re often going to find underlying mental health issues- like ADHD, depression and anxiety. All of which frequently go undiagnosed until Internet addiction spins out of control.

The real problem being that most people laugh, shrug it off and don’t consider it a serious thing.

2014: Digital Detox

Of course, not every person who spends hours surfing the web each day suffers from an internet addiction. But seriously, if we’re being completely honest with ourselves, we might discover that many of our own online habits have more of a negative than positive effect on our lives! After all, what good really comes from checking one’s Facebook page 15 times a day, or avoiding the outside world to live in a virtual one?

Digital detoxifying, in wilderness therapy programs such as Pacific Quest, are a popular form of treatment for teens and young adults struggling with addictions of many kinds, including abuse or misuse of video games and the Internet. Pacific Quest has the advantage of giving teens, adolescents and young adults the constant access to mental and physical health care professionals and frequent therapy sessions, while removing them completely from the object of the addiction and the life situations that may have supported the addiction in the first place. At the same time, treatment centers give addicts a chance to get a hold on to underlying issues, such as depression and anxiety.

A wonderful “New Years Resolution” for people of any age, would be to start off the New Year by using some “digital detox”. Let’s try putting down the phone, powering off the computer, and making some real memories without the aid of an electronic device. We might be surprised by how much, or how little, we actually miss it.

Internet Addiction: Reasons to Wait to Give Teens a Smartphone

With recent studies estimating nearly 40% of 12-17 year olds have smartphones and that they are using the internet via smartphones more than home computers, it begs the question: Should kids be given their own phones?

Re-thinking the Usual Reasons

Kids need phones for safety.

  • Safety and quick communication are important. But with the internet at their fingers tips at any time of day, how safe are they? Unless parental controls are in place on a device, how do you truly know what your children are seeing or who they are talking to? Older generations were just fine before cell phones. And should communication be necessary, odds are kids can borrow a phone from a friend or adult. Another benefit of holding off on giving children a phone: Parents will need to be more aware of kids’ whereabouts, activities, etc., and who they are with.

They’re just using Facebook.

  • Social media isn’t as innocuous as it seems. Adolescents feel pressure to fit in, so they may post things to try to keep up appearances, but ultimately they do not fully understand the long-term repercussions of posting certain pictures, status updates, and tweets. Let’s not forget that social media is the platform that created cyberbullying.

Everyone else has a cell phone.

  • Speaking of fitting in, not having a cellphone may make them seem socially excluded. But in absence of cell phones, kids would need to communicate like past generations used to – by talking in person or making an actual phone call versus texting or “IM-ing” (instant messaging). That is a good thing.

Having a cell phone keeps them in touch with friends.

  • Childhood is a formative time for many reasons. For one, kids and teens are learning how to socialize. But in the age of smartphones with text and messaging capabilities, people – not just children – are having fewer and fewer face-to-face interactions, thus creating more superficial relationships, and a dearth of true, good communication skills.

Just as with cars and other adult responsibilities, smartphones deserve extra consideration. Cell and smartphones need to be thought of more as tools rather than toys, especially when they have internet access. Content that isn’t suitable for children and teens is a click away.

What Age Is Appropriate?

Of course, each case is different. Maturity level and sense of responsibility vary from child to child. It’s up to the parents to decide after considering all the pros and cons. However, not to be overlooked is the fact that the brain continues to grow well in a person’s 20s, and new research shows that the internet and other forms of technology actually rewire how our brains work even after only a few hours of use. If adults are susceptible to these changes and issues of technology, then surely adolescents and teens are, too. Ultimately, it may be a good idea to hold off giving younger children and adolescents smartphones as long as possible.

If an adolescent has begun showing signs that all this technology is affecting his daily life, then a source of help such as outdoor therapy may be a good consideration.

Internet Addiction in Today’s Adolescents  

Troubled adolescents are more likely to have an internet addiction as the internet becomes a source of distraction, escape, or pleasure. As the addiction progresses, a troubled adolescent shows signs of withdrawing from friends and family, waning interest in other hobbies he once enjoyed, increasing physical side effects such as headaches or pains, etc.

Outdoor therapy like that at Pacific Quest gets troubled adolescents away from the technologies that are causing them problems. Outdoor therapy includes organic gardening and horticulture to get trouble adolescents to relax but also give them a sense of self-accomplishment and purpose. Individual and group therapies help troubled adolescents understand the roots of their struggles as internet addiction is more than just excessive internet use. Troubled adolescents that go through the Pacific Quest outdoor therapy program learn to be a kid again while learning life skills to help them deal with challenges and situation in the future.

Is the Internet Changing the Way We Think?

Email, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Email, again. Sports pages, Blogs, Online Magazines, Video Games.

The internet – whether on a computer or smartphone – is one big distraction. But, are all these distractions negatively affecting us?

Any marketing student or director can tell you that internet users have short attention spans. Then there’s Twitter, which allows only 140 characters before forcing people to the next tweet, and articles with hyperlinks to other stories, related topics, or photos that can direct people away from the original source. Some researchers and psychologists are beginning to worry about the cumulative effect of this attraction-then-distraction nature of the internet. Is it making us “dumber”?

internet addiction wilderness therapy

Where people once regularly read books and entire articles in newspapers, now no depth of thinking is required as people skim through headlines and mini-stories. Students are adept at using technology like the internet to gather information for a paper; however, citing numerous sources doesn’t necessarily mean they acquired a depth of understanding of the topic. The internet has led to a culture of skimming: we look at emails or articles for the bits that seem important with no time to deal with the rest. Is this a bad thing? Well, it could be.

Internet – Rewiring How Our Brains Work

Not only do brains continue to develop into our 20s, they have a use-it-or-lose-it aspect that continues throughout our lives. Using the net, with its infinite temptations, activates different parts of the brain than do deep thought and following one area of study. So, as habits change, so do people’s brains. This switch to more shallow thinking may mean people are losing the ability to stick with a single task. Also, computer-enabled “multitasking” isn’t exactly true. Science has shown the brain isn’t really all that good at multitasking. Put simply, a person can’t truly think about two things at once. What might this mean for young people? In a 5-year study of 100,000 students that ended in 2005 before social media really took off, researchers found a correlation between some decreasing test scores and the growing number of homes with computers and internet access.

The internet can be an escape – a form of entertainment – as much as it can be a useful tool. With all the growing research and numerous studies and observations about how technology is affecting people’s habits and health, people need to be aware what excessive computer use can cause.

While adults and children alike are susceptible to developing bad habits, today’s youth and future generations will only know a world with computers and the internet. Internet addiction is a modern issue, and as it could be that the internet is best used in moderation, teaching children boundaries early may help them avoid some of the risk associated with internet overuse.

Learning a New Way of Life with Wilderness Therapy

Wilderness therapy for troubled teens struggling with internet addiction gets them out in nature and away from the multiple sources that feed their addiction. The Pacific Quest wilderness program is more than about hiking and adventure. It is about getting back in tune with nature and with the inner self. Organic gardening and horticulture therapy have shown to reduce stress, improve concentration, and increase motivation. Creating planting schedules, prioritizing crop rotations, organizing a nursery, designing garden beds, tracking compost temperatures, and thinking of and experimenting new ways to increase efficiency require students to think analytically and develop problem solving skills. Beyond helping with emotional and mental issues associated with internet addiction, outdoor therapy helps troubled adolescents and young adults grow and gain skills that will serve them throughout their lives.

The Toll of Internet Addiction on Families

Blogging, social media, gaming, shopping, TV, movies, virtual worlds. With so much to do and read on the Web, spending hours online isn’t difficult Because of this, internet addiction a real issue of modern life, and there are differences between being online a lot and having an internet usage problem.

Compulsive internet behavior can interfere with daily functioning. Excessive hours spent online lead to sleep loss and neglect of personal hygiene. People may also lie about their online behavior, think about being online during time when they aren’t online, have unsuccessfully tried to curb their internet habits, lose interest in other hobbies and activities he once enjoyed, and withdraw from family and friends.

Internet Addiction Affects the Whole Family

The internet provides endless entertainment, and some young adults and teenagers may see using the internet for social media or gaming as a way to connect with their friends and other people. But as these digital relationships and activities gain importance, they replace face-to-face interaction, and real-life relationships suffer.

Family members can see and feel this withdrawal when they notice a son or daughter neglecting to shower, ignoring homework, no longer caring to play sports, and failing to keep up with household responsibilities. Internet addiction research suggests this can create strain that affects relationships and overall household functioning. What is a parent to do?

Wilderness Therapy for Troubled Teens

Internet addiction can be difficult to deal with because the internet is easily accessible, and people have legitimate reasons to use it on a regular basis. Parents need to realize that internet addiction is not always resolved by controlling time spent online, etc. For troubled adolescents and young adults, the internet can be an escape or outlet, so it is important to discover, learn about, and deal with the underlying reasons as to why they turned to the internet in the first place. A variety of treatment options have been developed for dealing with internet addiction. Though no one option is better than another, parents should consider wilderness or outdoor therapy.

The Pacific Quest Wilderness Therapy Program can help troubled teens dealing with a variety of issues. For those with an internet addiction, Pacific Quest’s home in Hawaii gets them away from the source of their addiction – computers, smartphones, gaming systems – and puts them in an environment that provides whole-person wellness. More than a place that focuses on outdoor activity, Pacific Quest is an outdoor therapeutic program that teaches young people life skills along with providing mental and emotional healing. Because there are often underlying issues that lead to internet addiction, individual and group therapy help students identify the sources of their problem and talk about their feelings. Making lifestyle changes is not easy, but students learn how nutrition, sleep, and exercise are all part of living a balanced life. And when internet addiction is an issue, it is important to keep active in non-internet activities.

How Families Can Heal and Help

As with substance addiction, families that have members dealing with behavior addiction need support in their own way. Parents and siblings need to be able to express their own feelings and frustrations, learn how to deal with the situation, and get advice for how to help their family member get better. Family therapists and addiction support groups can offer much needed support and guidance.

Pacific Quest offers some therapy service and support for families. Parents can discuss their personal concerns, learn and develop new parenting skills and strategies, and learn how set boundaries and expectations. Siblings also play an important role, so Pacific Quest doctors and therapists are committed to involving them when possible and helping them manage their own concerns and feelings. Pacific Quest strives to give students the tools for long-term wellness, and that kind of sustainable growth and change occurs when families are involved and are a part of the treatment process.

Disconnected in the Internet Age

Recently a video has been circulating on the Internet that offers food for thought about modern life with the internet, computers, and smartphones.  As a young woman goes through her day, she never has a cell phone, but her boyfriend looks at his before they have even gotten out of bed. A lunch-time conversation with friends dies as each person but her ends up staring at a smartphone.

Before the constant digital connectivity, people gave their attention to the moment – to the activity and people in front of them. No one thought he was others because he wasn’t at home to answer his phone. Cameras were a separate device; no one took pictures of her lunch – then dinner, coffee, nails, and new shoes – and shared it with the world. Now we have constant distraction that we think keeps us in touch. Of course, people can argue that nothing has really changed, and that we still connect with those around us.

But is it really connecting when we look at our phones to check texts, Fantasy sports scores, Facebook, or retweet the latest gossip while a friend is talking to us…only to realize you need that person to repeat half her story because you tuned out?

What if we turned our phones and computers off or restricted our use?

“I can’t leave my phone at home or put it aside,” we say. “What if someone needs me? I feel disconnected without it.”

The irony is that we are probably more disconnected than ever – from life, our families, friends, and in some ways even reality. The video is a microcosm of society giving an outside-looking-in perspective on our internet-addicted habits.

The Internet Addiction Age

It’s nearly culturally accepted that cell phones are part of both social and private moments. No one thinks twice about logging on to a computer just after getting home. But, maybe that isn’t OK. Maybe we need to take a step back and realize just what it all looks like and means – the unintended consequences and repercussions.

Children copy adults’ habits. They see us using our computers and phones constantly. How many of us have seen a baby playing with a parent’s phone? Some even know how to use smartphones already or can operate an iPad. Parents use them as a means to get kids to behave when out at dinner. Habits are not created over night; they are, by definition, done repeatedly over time. Eventually people don’t even think about what they’re doing, and this loss of awareness – on all of our parts – is creating this societal norm of disconnect. Some people get so lost in this technology and the Web they can develop an internet addiction.

When Your Teen is Dealing with Internet Addiction

Internet addiction can be the result of underlying issues. Troubled teens struggling with identity, acceptance, and loneliness can turn to the internet as a source of comfort. Through virtual worlds and online gaming, they feel connected to other people or find “friends” through social media. Online personas, relationships, and activities replace “real-life” ones, and internet addicted adolescents and young adults withdraw from friends, family, and even the things they once enjoyed doing.

The internet has a dark side. While social media can make it easier to connect to others, it has been used by both adults and teens to bully others. Instead of finding acceptance and friends, these situations can cause anxiety, depression, and fear in young people, who may often choose to not tell parents what is happening.

Wilderness therapy for troubled teens can offer a means to get away from the source of their addiction, which is important because they need to learn to keep active with non-internet activities.  Many young people today do not remember a world without computers, cell phones, and the Internet. Therefore, it may be more important to help them develop healthy computer and internet usage habits early because excessive use can have emotional, mental, and physical health effects. Pacific Quest’s wilderness therapy program incorporates healthy living, structured activity, and adventure with traditional individual and group therapy to help troubled adolescents and young adults developed balanced lives. And at Pacific Quest, learning to be part of a community and truly connecting with others are part of the process.