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.

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.

Internet Addiction: Females & Their Relationship with Mobile Technology

There is no escaping the force that is mobile technology. It is here to stay. And depending on which side of the fence you are on, it is either good or bad – or, perhaps, a bit of both.

We live in an information age. With the aid of computers, smartphones, and internet access, we can have answers at our fingertips within seconds. Sometimes we ask silly questions, and sometimes we search for truly important information – directions, or what to do in times of need. Internet Addiction Females

On one side is the argument that mobile technology is empowering, especially for women, because of its connection to the Internet and thus the Web’s wealth of information. For all of us with access to mobile phones, there are still many who do not, especially those in lower- and middle-income countries. But over the last decade, mobile technology has been quickly expanding in those countries, giving people access to information they never would have had –an important development for those living in remote areas and where infrastructure is lacking. Historically, women and girls have been a marginalized group and have been more affected than men by lack of information. In still-developing countries, cell phones give women and girls the ability to call – or do an internet search – to access important, even life-saving information. Surveys and studies show other benefits for these women as well, such as increased economic and professional opportunities, and a greater sense of independence.

Because modern life seems to necessitate owning a cell or smart phone, access to information is still important in higher-income countries. However, in places like the US, people in general seem to have a changing and different relationship with their phones, allowing others to argue the bad side of mobile technology. Interesting aspects about this relationship were unveiled in a study conducted by Time Inc. in conjunction with a marketing firm focused on women and their relationship with their mobile phones. Firstly, 60% of women surveyed (versus 43% of men) said that their cell phones are the most important devices in their lives. Seventy-eight percent said their phones are the first thing they look at in the morning, and phones account for much their daily free-time activity (texting, viewing social media, and shopping). Nearly all respondents said their phones are with them wherever they go, and 87% can’t imagine their lives without a cell phone. When also considering that women reported their phones as being a source of emotional pleasure, how can one see cell and smart phones as empowering?

Finding a Balance – Internet Addiction

It is a grey world. Anything can be bad for us if left unmonitored – even Internet and mobile technologies. Behavioral addictions form when a person develops a strong compulsion to continue doing something because of some real or perceived reward. Because that person eventually cannot voluntarily disengage from the activity, harmful consequences occur – such as losses that are financial (as in compulsive gambling), personal (disintegrating relationships), or physical (insomnia, weight gain).

Now that we see children with their own mobile phones, what habits are they developing? Are they developing an emotional dependency on their phones? Some people see constant texting and other mobile phone activities that young people engage in as having the conditions for behavioral addiction. And considering how emotionally attached people can become to their cell phones – women seemingly more so than men, this can be a cause for concern.

If a young person – female or male – has developed an internet addiction, getting outside help may be necessary. Teens and young adults seek the internet as a distraction or an outlet for a variety of reasons. In order to treat internet addiction, it is important to discover the underlying causes that led them to overuse it. Programs such as the wilderness therapy developed at Pacific Quest in Hawaii can be incredibly beneficial in numerous ways. Using a Sustainable Growth Model, students learn life skills as well as experience healing all in an environment removed from the addiction source. It is all about finding balance to live the best life possible.

Internet on the Go

As anyone 30 years of age or older can attest, a lot about how we live life has changed, and we could list a multitude of examples. Let’s keep it simple: Think about the internet and recall what life was like just over 20 years ago. Yeah. Phones were still attached to the walls, and phone lines were just for phone calls. Personal computers were a luxury. By the end of the millennium, advancements in technology and production were already helping to make computers smaller, more affordable, more powerful, and more commonplace. And as computer systems technology improved, so did the technology that gave us cell phones.

All the while, the World Wide Web was being developed and would revolutionize computers and phones once again. People once marveled that a house’s telephone land line could connect them to the internet, but now people get frustrated when their “smart phones” don’t upload webpages quickly enough as they drive to work.

In a relatively short period of time, the internet became mobile. Now people use cell phones for more than phones calls and text messages; they can surf the web anytime and anywhere just by turning on their smart phones. Thanks to technology and internet access, phones now ring for every new email, social media posts, sports updates, and when it’s time to make a play in an online game, etc.

Because of this, many people have developed the habit of compulsively and perhaps even obsessively checking their phones no matter where they are or the situation. Ask yourself, when you receive a new message, do you automatically check your phone? Have you ever looked at your phone thinking you got a new message only to find you were mistaken? Have you ever done this while driving? Most people could probably answer “yes” to all of these – even though laws now restrict cell phone usage while driving.

These developments mean it may be more important than ever to teach people at a young age to manage their online usage properly. People can get lost in surfing the web and interacting on social media when at their computers, which could possibly lead to an internet addiction. Smart phones can become another avenue for this addiction.

Today many teenagers – even some young children – have their own computers and cell phones. Habits – good or bad – are built over time, and healthy internet habits become of paramount importance as teenagers learn and begin to drive. New, inexperienced drivers are more likely to be involved in an accident than older, more experienced drivers. Add in a person that is used to checking his phone at any notification, and he may be likely to look at and try to respond to the message while driving – laws notwithstanding. It can be nerve-wracking for any parent smartphone-internet-addictionas her young child attains a license and is on his own, but the added distraction of cell phones can make the new experience more dangerous.

Of course smart phones can be extremely handy. For example, phones’ GPS capability means people can simply type in a destination and let their phone tell them the way. However, this helpful tool becomes less helpful if a person has to glance down to look at their phone. Set teenagers up for success by adding hands-free accessories, like a device that attaches or the windshield or dashboard at eye level.

 Internet Addiction and How to Cope

While anyone can fall prey to the feeling or need to check one’s cell phone, an internet addiction increases the potential for danger. We know we should not use our cell phones while driving, yet we may do it anyway. Someone with an internet addiction feels a constant need to stay connected as his or her sense of self can become intertwined with an online persona, and this may override common sense more than it might for others.

Internet addiction or internet usage issues can cause a person to lose sleep, have headaches, withdraw from normal social and extracurricular activities, become depressed, etc. Growing up has never been easy, but today’s youth are experiencing stress levels like never before from a growing number of sources: social media, TV, advertising. If a young person in your life is struggling and talking has not been effective, seeking professional help or a wellness and treatment center may be an option. At a wellness facility, participants’ mental, emotional, and physical health are all taken into account with an integrated program. Learning life skills can help adolescents and young adults grow into healthy, balanced adults who are more self-aware and make better decisions – whether or not they are behind the wheel.

The Internet Age & Rise of Smart Phones

In the last half century, technology has advanced at a pace that has never before been experienced. The change in telephone technology and the rise of cell phones exemplify this rapid evolution. A decade ago, cell phones were beginning to become more affordable for the average buyer, but looking back two decades, they were in the hands of only a few who could afford the luxury.  However, their ubiquity now means it is not unusual to see adolescents and teenagers – even young children – with a cell phone.

And all the while, cell phone technology has advanced so much that they are now more personal computers rather than simply a phone. They have evolved into smart phones: small, compact machines that take digital pictures, capture videos, store music, act as a personal gaming device, and have internet access. The latter allows users to use their phones to surf the web, access email, keep up with social media, stream TV shows and movies, and even navigate. The internet was a revolution in itself. Who would have imagined we would be able to access the internet with personal mobile devices?

Society has quickly adapted to these rapid changes and has even welcomed them. Many people seem to like being able to reach others whenever and wherever they are and the fact anyone can reach them, too; it can be reassuring to have this level of availability. And with cell phones enabling internet usage from any location with a Wi-Fi signal or a data plan, people also get a sense of increased productivity. No longer will an important email have to wait until they get back into the office. People also love all the applications available – social media, games, news outlets. These can be set to notify us of any new activity. With all this information and stimulation at our fingertips, we wonder how we ever seemed to get by without the internet and cell phone addiction

However, the tradeoffs are just as great as the rewards. Because people can typically be found with their cell phones within reach, friends, family, and employers expect immediate responses. Personal space, privacy, and down time have been invaded, and people’s personal lives are being affected. Increasing numbers of people are experiencing anxiety over this constant deluge of messages and notifications and the demands these place on people’s attention and time. Internet usage issues can possibly to problems for people causing them to lose touch with the reality around them as they try to keep up with all the distractions at their fingertips. This can lead to emotional and/or mental problems or even the breakdown of personal relationships.

Dealing with Internet Use and Our Cell Phones

Maybe this situation is relatable to you. Maybe you have experienced this yourself or have seen a friend go through it. But whether it is familiar or not, the situation of internet addiction and internet usage issues is real, and smart phones enable these problems to progress. Cell phones and their increased functional capacity will not be going away, so we have to learn how to deal with the strain they could cause.

For the children growing up in a world where there have always been the internet and cell phones, this may be even more important. Parents should help them realize their lives do not have to be ruled by these technologies, and that nothing replaces face-to-face communication and interaction. Setting up rules and boundaries for cell phone and internet use may help to set in place healthy habits that they can continue to use into adulthood.

But for all people’s best intentions, they or their children can develop dependencies on their phones or the internet. When this happens, seeking help may be the answer and can aid a person in changing bad habits while also helping him cope with any emotional issues. Many options exist. For some, maybe a weekend away from technology is all they need. For people who recognize a bigger problem, treatment centers offer the time and support necessary to assist in recovery.

One example is wilderness therapy. For adolescents and young adults, this can be incredibly helpful. Wilderness therapy offers a hybrid therapeutic model that incorporates outdoor treatment as well and traditional residential therapy. Structured outdoor activities that require responsibility and accountability have shown to build life skills and a sense of self. Trained doctors, therapists, and psychologists provide participants with support and the skills and information to deal with their emotions, stress, etc., that can develop due to internet addiction or other issues.

It is all about finding a healthy balance with the realities of today.

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.