Social Networking

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.

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.

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.

A New Definition of Self through Social Media

“I share, therefore I am.”
–Sherry Turkle

Social media is still a very new technology, but it has quickly changed a lot about our social lives and even how we think about ourselves. Before social media, people paid attention a bit more to the moment – to the activity and people in front of them. Maybe it was because cell phones weren’t constantly ringing or alerting us of new texts and posts. Cameras were a separate device, and no one took pictures of her lunch – then dinner, coffee, and new shoes – and shared it with the world. Even with the advent of digital cameras, people weren’t compelled to constantly carry one around to capture any random moment.

Now the moment is often about social media activity. How often have we heard, “If it’s not on Facebook, then it didn’t happen”? (Admit it: perhaps even you’ve said it.) Let’s not get it all wrong. Social media isn’t all bad. It is its own industry; people are creating jobs out of blogging or developing social apps. (Snapchat, anyone?)  However, social media sharing shouldn’t be a measure of our activity and involvement in life, nor should the number of Facebook friends or Twitter followers.

Posting, sharing, and tweeting have gained a bit more importance than sharing an experience in the non-virtual world. (How many of us now say, “Stop! I want to take a picture for Instagram!”) It’s all about balance. What happens when we can’t figure out that balance?

Losing Ourselves in Internet Addiction, Finding Life through Wilderness Therapy

New research about the consequences of excessive computer and internet use continually
emerges, along with questions about internet addiction. It all has a basis in reality. People are experiencing higher levels of anxiety and depression among other side effects, and studies show they are related to excessive use of technology – from computers, video games, smartphones, and social media. Also as we – especially adolescents and young adults – define ourselves through social media, depression sets in due to cyberbullying, etc. All in all, Facebook friends and social media “likes,” are not living up to face-to-face connections and the benefits those give us.

Many people know where to draw the line, and they know when they need to take a step back. Unfortunately, some people can get lost in the technology and what it seems to offer. Because of that, internet addiction seems to be the result of people using the internet as a comfort or escape. It comes to define part of who they are since the internet is filling some void in their own lives.

Wilderness therapy can help those who can’t seem to break the internet addiction cycle and who are dealing with deep issues related to their internet over-use. Wilderness therapy is different than other forms of therapy because of its use of nature as a therapeutic source. When incorporated properly, nature and nature-based therapy has calming and curative effects.

Pacific Quest wilderness therapy excursion

Pacific Quest wilderness therapy is one such program. Horticulture provides one means students interact with nature. By working in organic gardens, students learn to create true connections as they work together to build and tend to the gardens. These connections are further deepened in group therapy sessions, where they learn to share, listen, and contribute to face-to-face conversations about mutual struggles and experiences.

Before social media, we talked to others about our day. Now that’s truly sharing. Pacific Quest can help troubled adolescents and young adults redefine themselves in a healthy way.

Internet Addiction: Trading Real Relationships for the Virtual Community

“I share, therefore I am.” –Sherry Turkle

The world as it is today is more connected than ever. Yet, people are somehow missing on the real life connections around them – family, friends, coworkers.

Before the constant digital connectivity, people gave their attention to the moment: to the activity and people in front of them. Cameras were a separate device; no one regularly took pictures of 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 you text, comment, or tweet while a friend is talking, and you realize you haven’t heard half of what he said? It calls into question our ability to be good listeners and friends.

The irony is that we are probably more disconnected than ever – from life, family, friends, and in some ways even reality. Social media sharing shouldn’t be a measure of activity and involvement in life, nor should the number of Facebook friends or Twitter followers. Unfortunately, many people seem to care more about these fleeting moments of “sharing,” especially today’s adolescents and young adults who have always had the internet, rather than true relationships and connections. As a result, young people don’t fully understand how to be a real friend or develop a real relationship through direct communication.

Wilderness Therapy for Adolescents: Learning to Reconnect

Withdrawal from family, friends, and hobbies is a sign of both internet addiction and depression. Internet addiction or overuse should be taken seriously as it can often be an extension of other issues, such as depression. As real relationships crumble, internet activity, social media, or virtual gaming can continue to take on more importance.

Pacific Quest relationships

It is a complicated situation, and therapy is one way to be able to understand how the internet became to be so important. Why did someone trade real connection for a virtual community? At Pacific Quest wilderness therapy, young adults and adolescents get an opportunity to get away from technology, learn to live without it, and learn what it means to be part of a real community. By working together in Pacific Quest’s organic gardens, they cultivate life skills as well as connections and relationships with others.

Pacific Quest offers students a chance to learn to reconnect because knowing how to properly communicate and listen are important for future success in both personal and professional relationships. Real sharing takes place. No amount of social media sharing or virtual world activity will ever be able to teach that.

Parent's Guide to Internet Addiction and Overuse

Parents, You Can Help Prevent Cyberbullying

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

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

Tips for

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

If you suspect your child is being bullied,

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

If you suspect your teen is taking part in cyberbullying,

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

Wilderness Therapy: A Place for Adolescents & Young Adults

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

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

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

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.

Socialization in the Age of the Internet

Losing Our Chance to Learn to Be a Friend

One of the signs of internet addiction is withdrawal from friends and family and even from hobbies and activities that a person once enjoyed.

But why is this?

After all, social media and instant messaging, etc., seem to be the main ways teens and young adults stay in touch with friends…right?? Well, having hundreds of “friends” online does not equal hundreds of true friendships. The result: superficial relationships. When combined with the popularity of texting, it means children and adolescents are losing out on face-to-face interactions and its benefits.Outdoor therapy program_ Wilderness program for adolescents_Troubled teens_Outdoor therapy_Wilderness program for young adults

As kids grow and develop, they learn how to socialize – how to make friends, how to be a friend, how to interact with others of different ages, how to behave in social situations. This is truly a skill, which should not be taken for granted. Research has shown that adults are affected by the constant connectivity from computers and smartphones. The brain can literally be re-wired, which seems to be having a negative effect on people’s ability to make and maintain deep relationships. If adults are experiencing these kinds of issues, then the effect on adolescents and teens may be more pronounced.

In this landscape, an adolescent trying to make friends yet may not have true friendships and figure out who he is may turn to the internet to find “friends” and fill emotional voids.

Internet Addiction in Adolescents and Young Adults

Internet addiction is more than an issue of excessive internet use. Often times, underlying issues lead people to use the internet or video games as a source of comfort. For example, troubled teens struggling with relationships in real life may turn to the internet. Social media, video games, and virtual worlds give the illusion that they are truly interacting with others.

As online activities and “relationships” gain more importance, real relationships with family and friends fall by the way side. Internet-addicted teens may also suffer physical pains and eye strain, experience headaches, and have falling grades.

Outdoor Therapy for Troubled Teens

The internet, social media, video games, etc., are all still relatively new and are a unique part of modern life. Thus, the long-term effects of this growing lack of true socialization are not yet fully known.

For troubled teens struggling with internet addiction and its effects – like poor socialization skills, an outdoor therapy program may be a great source of help, especially if regular forms of therapy have not made significant improvement.

At the Pacific Quest wilderness program for adolescents and young adults, students are immersed in a community setting. Organic gardening and horticulture are at the center of the outdoor therapy program. While working in our gardens, students learn to work together and how to communicate with each other. But more importantly, the calming effects of and connection with nature help students understand the issues in their own lives and how to deal with their emotions. The whole-person wellness Pacific Quests aims to provide means troubled teens and young adults develop important life tools, such as good communication and socializing skills, while also becoming more balanced emotionally, mentally, and physically.

Friends are what help us get through each day. To help a troubled teen or young adult, learn about outdoor therapy programs and the possibility of help and health they can provide.

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.