Tips and Advice

Internet Addiction: Teens, Take Back Control

Do you spend more than a few hours a week online on a computer, smartphone, or tablet?
Do you ignore your homework? Chores?
Do you forego sleep to surf the net or play online games?
Have you stopped hanging out with friends?
Are family relationships suffering?
Do you still keep up with other hobbies or sports?

Wilderness Therapy Internet Addiction PQ garden diggingIf these questions hit home, you may be dealing with internet addiction. Maybe you’ve heard of it, maybe not. Maybe you’ve joked about being addicted to the net or not living without your smartphone with its social media apps and Candy Crush.

Internet addiction is gaining a lot of attention. A Google search turns up basic information, internet addiction tests, self-help tips, plus ads for professional help. While it’s not yet classified as a true addiction, much research has been devoted to the effects of excessive internet usage. And yes, studies show that spending too much time online and plugged in to gadgets has many negative effects.

Maybe it all sounds like a crazy idea to you. Another teen thought so, too. Yes, internet time was eroding certain aspects of her life, and an online quiz told her she had a big problem. She wasn’t convinced she had an addiction. She was, though, motivated to take control and change her habits. She found a wealth of happiness … away from her computer.

That is great!

Self-discipline worked for her, but it may not work for everyone. That’s because internet addiction isn’t simply about excessive internet use. It’s also characterized by neglect of personal hygiene, responsibilities, and relationships with friends and family. Underlying insecurities, depression, etc., mean some people turn to the internet for comfort or distraction, and end up lost in all the internet seems to offer. When the problem seems more than just bad habits and you don’t know what to do, it’s time to get help.

It’s OK to Ask for Help for Internet Addiction

Everyone needs help from time to time, and it takes strength to say you can’t do it on your own. Let your parents know something seems wrong. If you need, seek out a therapist or mental health professional. Talking with a third party can help you discover and begin to understand why you’ve developed an internet dependency.

Wilderness Therapy Programs: Helping Teens Get a Handle on Their Troubles

Of course, it’s tough to change when the source of your problem is a fact of modern life. You need the computer to write school reports, the internet to research information, so it’s easy to tell yourself, “I’ll check Facebook for only a few minutes.”

Deciding to go to a therapy program away from home isn’t easy, but it could be the best decision you’ve ever made, and it gets you away from the temptations of computers and smartphones. If an in-patient program seems too intimidating, look into wilderness therapy, which is about getting outside and learning to be alive, about you, and how to be a better, happier person. Wilderness therapy programs for adolescents and young adults like you are usually thought of as a last resort, but they don’t have to be. If it seems right for you, check one out.

Wilderness programs aren’t all the same. Some are tough, adventure camps. Others take a less outdoor-survival-skill approach, like Pacific Quest in Hawaii, where you’ll work in organic gardens and gain life skills, increase self-confidence, and reduce stress. Pacific Quest also teaches how exercise and sleep, nutrition and diet all factor into being happier and healthier. You’ll also get the opportunity to test your physical strength as you explore, hike, and discover the beautiful surroundings.

Wilderness therapy will challenge you – mentally, physically, emotionally. The road to change isn’t always easy; it requires work. Individual and group therapy gives you time to talk to a therapist and other teens with the same struggles. Pacific Quest’s wilderness therapy program is here to give you the tools to create lasting change that will help you take back control of your life.

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.

Are Virtual Babysitters Creating Internet Addiction?

internet addiction wilderness therapyThe Internet has clearly replaced TV as the stand-by babysitter for parents today. My generation relied on TV shows like “The Brady Bunch” and “Little House On The Prairie”, for example, to teach us right from wrong, and to understand a little bit about life. Not that I’m saying that was the most effective formula for parenting. However, it was relatively “safe”.

Today, even my 5 year old niece is highly proficient with using an iPhone, tablets, computers, video games etc… An inordinate number of teens, adolescents and young adults have reportedly become addicted to the internet. Perhaps it has something to do with the immoderate and exorbitant amount of time kids are spending playing video games, with generalized internet surfing, apps played over smart phones or other hand held devices, as well as console gaming systems, eBooks, and the use of products offered over all types of digital interface devices- rather than with other human beings and parental or adult supervision?

Virtually There

It has come to full-blown media attention at this point that parents need to take a more proactive stance in the acceptance of modern technology becoming a part of our children’s education. Even if we are so busy struggling to make ends meet for our children and too busy to even spend time reading our youngsters a book at bed time – we should be helping them to go on-line, teaching them about exploring the internet with them and talking through what they find – in a mutual education and bonding exercise. Supervising children when they are using the web and allowing internet use only ‘in moderation’ may seem like a little extra work early on- but will save a lot of possible future problems.

Children need balance -using games and websites online can be both educational and act as a fun stimulant for younger children. There are some wonderful learning tools out there! However, when it comes down to supervising what they are doing, parents shouldn’t use the Internet as a virtual babysitter. We must make sure we are aware of what our children are looking at.

Internet Safety

Do you know what current tools for censorship exist? (Including tracking and tracing communications over peer-to-peer networks). Do you know how children get round the controls we put in place to prevent them from exploring the world of the internet? These questions highlight the challenge that some parents face in keeping up with their children when it comes to technology and in understanding what they can do to protect children.

A recent poll asking children about their use of social networking sites found that many are still chatting to strangers online, despite a number of campaigns warning of the dangers.

“Under-13’s”, many of whom are supposedly too young to sign up without parental consent, are managing to find their way on to these sites and befriending people they do not know.

The same poll found that 22 per cent of eight- to 11-year-olds have a social networking profile and have typically amassed 92 friends – but 12 per cent of these are people they have never met.

The figure rises for those in their early teens, with 80 per cent saying they have a social networking profile with an average of 286 friends. Shockingly, among 12- to 15-year-olds up to a quarter of these ‘friends’ are strangers.

The same shocking statistics exist in the world of internet gaming. There are reports warning that advances in online gaming means it is possible for children to be contacted by strangers from around the world.In fact, one in three boys in their early teens admitted playing games online with people who are not known to them. As a parent, allowing the use of the Internet to take the place of a real babysitter or caregiver may mean putting your child in significant danger.

Other Internet Problems & Solutions

Cyber-bullying remains a problem with one in ten Internet users aged 12 to 15 saying they have experienced it in the past year.

Around 13 per cent of girls this age have personal experience of being bullied online, compared to five per cent of boys.

Internet addictions in adolescents can be particularly serious because it can interfere with the essential emotional, intellectual, and social developments that occur during adolescence.

Parents frequently lament that their children know more about the internet then they do, and that lack of confidence in using the Internet is an issue for a number of parents.

There is a solution.  Get involved. Take a more active role in the prevention of future issues. If Internet addiction of some sort is already a problem parents of adolescents have the opportunity to take a more active role in the treatment, by providing a high level of support. The motivation to heal can only come from the child addict, but parents can help by giving their kids access to:

  •     Boundaries and expectations at home
  •     Rewards for positive behavior at home
  •     Group therapy
  •     Individual therapy
  •     Family therapy
  •     In-patient treatment
  •     Wilderness therapy

Wilderness therapy has been shown to be a particularly effective method for treating internet addiction in adolescents. At Pacific Quest, we have seen great success treating Internet addiction using our Sustainable Growth™ model, which focuses on the mind-body connection, the importance of nature, and the individual’s place within the community, as well as the essential aspects of clinical care.

If you’d like to learn more about internet addiction and how Pacific Quest’s Wilderness Therapy Program can help, please download “A Parent’s Guide to Internet Addiction in Teens and Young Adults” or contact us at 808-937-5806 today.

Parents, Is Your Child Dealing with Internet Addiction?

internet addicion wildreness therapyIf you’ve noticed that your child or teen is troubled and seems to be exhibiting signs of internet addiction, you may be wondering what you should do. Becoming proactive is important.

How You Can Help Your Teen’s Internet Addiction

Talk to Your Teen

Before talking with a child, both parents need to agree that a problem exists, then it is possible to discuss how to approach him, what to say and do, and what goals should be set. Should one parent think no problem exists, a teen could appeal to the more doubtful parent, which could undermine efforts to help.

Plan ahead before approaching your teenager, and that includes being prepared for emotional responses or outbursts as your child may feel threatened by both cutting down on internet time and being confronted about it. Refrain from responding in the same manner and lecturing on other topics. Stay calm, and keep the focus on the internet use while also acknowledging his/her feelings.

Show You Care

When approaching anyone about a perceived problem, you should expect some denial. Also, kids and teens can interpret your concern as criticism or blame. Reassure them by saying you’re concerned about certain changes you’ve noticed – fatigue, lower grades, social withdrawal, etc.

Often with internet addiction, underlying issues are the true problem and reason for excessive internet use. Troubled teens turn to the internet and gaming as sources of distraction, comfort, or friendship. You may be able to begin a dialogue about what is bothering your teen.

Be Computer Smart

Part of internet addiction is lying about online activities. Going through internet logs, searching histories, or installing monitoring software can help you as a parent determine your child’s online behaviors, but doing so can take some know-how. Also, the internet has its own language, so learning both technical and popular terms will also provide insight into what your teen is doing online – what they’re saying and to whom.

Set Boundaries

A natural response may be to restrict computer use completely, but this isn’t the best idea for several reasons. Firstly, children may resent you and interpret the action as, “I’m a bad kid.” Secondly, studies have shown that internet addiction has withdrawal symptoms similar to those of substance addictions; people can experience feelings of nervousness, anger, and irritability. Thirdly, it is unrealistic. Computers and the internet are everyday tools in today’s modern society.

At first, try having them to log their online time and activities for a short time. This way you can learn how they spend time online, and if they refuse, you are perhaps dealing with denial of internet addiction. Reasonable internet rules could include an extra hour on school nights with more time allowed on weekends.

Remember the ultimate goal is not control over your teen but rather help him be less psychologically dependent on the internet.

Wilderness Therapy for Internet Addicted Teens

As much as parents want to help their children and try to do all they can, sometimes it isn’t enough. Seeking outside help is OK. A growing alternative to traditional therapy sessions is wilderness therapy for teens. Wilderness therapy programs have been able to help troubled adolescents deal with a variety of issues – from internet or substance addictions to mood behavior problems or poor social skills.

Hawaii’s Pacific Quest wilderness therapy program was set up with a belief in whole person wellness and sustainable growth. An important factor in that growth and change is family, an invaluable source of support. Pacific Quest offers the opportunity for parents to discuss their concerns and identify areas of struggle. So your teen is learning to become her best self, you can learn new parenting skills and strategies and how to better communication with her when she returns home.

For more information about Pacific Quests program, you can call or email and find out if Pacific Quest wilderness therapy program is right for your troubled teen.

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.

Wilderness Therapy : The Physical Toll of Internet Addiction

The Internet Age dawned only a relative few years ago, but it has affected the world in ways that may be greater than those of the Industrial Revolution. In 2000 Bill Gates wrote an essay entitled, “Shaping the Internet Age.” In it he describes the internet’s beginnings, its evolution through the World Wide Web, its current state (well, as it was in 2000), and its future as “one of the key cultural and economic forces of the early 21st century.”

Fast-forward thirteen years, and we are now living in that future. And, Gates was right: few would have predicted that the internet would play such a central role in our lives – from personal to business. Many people use the internet and find it an indispensable tool. At the end of the day, most can understand that the internet is a tool and feel fine putting it away when necessary. However, people with internet addiction or internet usage issues find it much more difficult to step away from and log off their computers. If few would have seen the full potential of the internet and World Wide Web in its infancy, then even fewer would have foreseen – let alone understood – some of the consequences of the lifestyle that can come of overusing them.

Any addiction takes a mental, emotional, and physical toll on a person. For anyone with an internet addiction or internet usage issue, the physical problems vary but can be just as serious as the mental and emotional ones and include

  • Weight gain
  • Decline in physical fitness
  • Carpal tunnel syndrome
  • Dry eyes
  • Eye strain
  • Migraine headaches
  • Back aches
  • Decline in personal hygiene
  • Changes in brain tissue/structures

These problems develop over time – possibly so slowly that one may not realize any changes for some time. Most often when using the internet, people are sitting at a computer. In the US and today’s knowledge-based economy, many jobs require people to be stationed for hours at a desk, then they go home and spend more hours sitting either at a computer surfing the web for entertainment or doing late-night work, or they sit in front of the television to stream Netflix or play video games. The result is a sedentary lifestyle not experienced by past generations and that leads to a host of health issues.

All You Have to Do Is Sit There

Being sedentary means more time is spent sitting and correspondingly less time is dedicated to physical activity, a combination that leads to a decline in fitness and weight gain unless something is done to combat the effects. A person will eventually suffer from extra pounds, and those pounds bring additional health concerns, such as heart disease, etc. And whether ones gains weight or not, minimal physical activity can bring on some of the same problems.

Carpal tunnel syndrome is a progressive condition caused by the compression of the median nerve, which runs from the forearm to the wrist and palm. This nerve controls some movement the in the thumb and fingers. Symptoms include tingling, numbness, and a feeling as though some fingers are useless; as it worsens, people may experience decreased sensation and/or decreased grip strength. Various factors can contribute to the increased pressure of the nerve, including work stress. Though there is insufficient clinical data to conclusively say that repetitive movements of the hand or wrists from work or leisure activities lead to carpal tunnel syndrome, people can experience hand and wrist pain and discomfort from long hours of computer work.

Prolonged periods of staring at a computer screen contribute to both eye problems and headaches. Eyes are forced to constantly move and re-focus as people look across the computer screen, down to papers on their desk, and back again. Computer screen light, glare, and flickers also mean extra work for the eyes causing headaches and eye strain. Overtime this can lead to poor vision or worsen vision.

Back, neck, and other pains can stem from sitting too long and improperly. Ergonomic chairs, desks, keyboards, etc., can help alleviate the cause of some pains, as can taking breaks and performing some stretches or exercises periodically. Overall physical strength can also help, as a strong back and good posture can alleviate any pain experienced.

Many of these physical problems are not exclusive to those with an internet usage disorder. Anyone who spends many hours sitting and working at a computer can suffer from them. Therefore, it is important to monitor computer usage, be aware of one’s body, and do something – like exercise – to prevent issues from occurring.

The Physical Aspect of Mental and Emotional Struggles

Internet addiction can lead to depression, which has its own physical effect and symptoms. As it is a mental disorder that affects emotions and moods, depression alters brain chemistry leading to issues throughout the body. People suffering from depression can experience physical aches and pains, decreased appetites, and chronic fatigue. Depression – as well as lack of sleep and proper nutrition – can lead to weakened immune systems leaving people more susceptible to illnesses and infections and worsen existing problems, like heart disease.

Seeking Help for Internet Addiction

Internet addiction is a serious issue that has far reaching effects. Adolescents and young adults are particularly susceptible to falling into an internet addiction as the Web offers them an escape from any social pressures, emotional struggles, and stresses they may be facing. And as habits are built over time, they can be difficult to break. With computers and the internet being ubiquitous, a Web-addicted teen faces an incredible uphill battle when wanting to break the cycle of addiction. Beyond dealing with the source of addiction, a young person must also learn to address the emotional, mental, and physical problems that have developed.

In-patient treatment offers an opportunity to get away from an addiction source, and medical and mental health professionals are available to aid in understanding the root issues that led to a substance or behavioral addiction. While no one form of treatment is the answer for everyone, an outdoor therapy program could be the option for a young person you know who is suffering from internet addiction. One of the leading centers is Pacific Quest located at Reeds Bay in Hawaii.

Unlike other wilderness programs that may focus on fun and adventure, Pacific Quest combines outdoor activities plus therapy to achieve whole-person wellness through a Sustainable Growth Model. Physical health is stressed as well as mental and emotional well-being as students learn life skills through organic gardening and horticulture and individual and group therapy to help them cope with the issues they will face once they graduate from the program.

Adolescents and young adults may not understand the ramifications of excessive computer use or recognize when they have a problem. Considering the physical effects that can stem from an internet addiction, helping a young person with a usage disorder and getting treatment early is important for long-term health, well-being, balance, and productivity.


Unplugging: Avoid an Internet Addiction

Internet addiction disorder and internet usage disorder are now recognized issues in today’s society. Because of work and school, it is nearly a requirement to have internet access and computers in our homes, plus a smartphone with a data plan in our pockets. Many projects and assignments cannot be completed without doing online research or communicating with coworkers or group members via email or instant messaging. In a world that is becoming increasingly connected by computers and the internet, how can we avoid the time trap that they can become?

Plopping down in front of a computer, watching TV, or playing a video game is easy, which is why one can slip into an internet usage disorder. But, you don’t want to miss life because you wasted it in front of a computer. Memories should be about the times you spent with family and friends. If you recognize that you may have an internet usage problem, try some of these tips and tricks for reducing the time you spend online. For adolescents and young adults, developing healthy habits early can set them up for success and avoid issues in the future.

  • Find a new hobby or activity. The key: the hobby does not involve the computer, internet, TV, video games, cell phones – well, you get the idea. Has photography always interested you? Grab a camera, go outside, and be creative. Join local clubs or sports leagues, take art classes, or attend community events. Rediscover your love of books. Exercise is known to have positive mental and emotional effects; learn yoga, or get friends together to do a mud run. Grab a skateboard or a bike. Learn to snowboard.
  • Do your homework. It can be so easy to get home from school and turn on the TV or surf your favorite websites. But before you know it, an hour or two has passed, and that homework pile is still waiting. Get it done early, and then the rest of the day is free. Also, before the internet and Wikipedia, there were libraries. Guess what. They still exist. Try to use books for research and references. Also, studying in the library could help you keep your focus, and the computers restrict access to certain sites.
  • Be more engaged with the people around you. Internet addictions take you away from face-to-face interactions and can cause personal relationships to deteriorate. Call up friends to go hang out at the bowling alley, go on a hike, or see a movie. Help your parents cook dinner, ask a sibling to help you walk the dog, or plan family time. Set up board game nights. Being with others can also help distract from the fact you are not online.
  • Limit your computer time. While this sounds ridiculously simple, it can be one of those things that is easier said than done. People with an internet addiction spend excessive amounts of time online and lose track of time. So, put away the laptop – “hide” it in a closet, and put some sort of cover over your desktop. Whenever you have to use the computer or internet, actively set a time limit and honor it.
  • Step away from the desk. This is everything from taking breaks to do something else (especially when you’re no longer being productive) to not eating at your desk. Breaks are important, an importance that is underscored by the scientific research linking health problems and risks to sedentary lifestyles.
  • Turn off notifications. Is it really that important to know when your best friend posts a new status on Facebook or breaking sports news? How many emails need your immediate attention? With smartphones that have internet access, it becomes even more difficult to escape the call of the Web, and notifications about every new bit of activity mean people constantly go online. These seemingly small distractions could lead to several minutes of browsing time.
  • Install applications that track your online activity or block access. Tracking your activity aids in understanding how you spend your time online, then you can start to change your habits. Other applications can block you from sites after a certain amount of them (which could come in handy if Facebook gets more time than a research paper). Parental controls can be used to block sites with sexual or explicit content, which is one thing that can lead to internet addictions.
  • Have a no-internet day. One blogger realized she had an internet usage problem, so she decided to spend one day a week (a full 24 hours) offline and use that day to do all of the things she enjoyed – from hanging out with friends and family to organizing her home or trying something new. The possibilities are endless. (Truly!) It may seem an extreme step, but just remember this: the World Wide Web has only been around for 20 or so years, and humans survived before it existed.
  • Get your ZZZs. How many hours have you wasted at night by surfing the web or streaming Netflix before you realize it is 2 a.m., and you have to wake up early for school or work? Good quality sleep is important to our health, so setting up a regular sleep schedule will help you avoid spending excess hours online.
  • Build a support system. Once realizing you may have a problem, tell your family and friends about it and what you are trying to do to help yourself. Have them remind you when you are spending too much time online, or ask them to do something with you so that you are not tempted to log on. Support is important whether you choose to make lifestyle changes on your own or if you have sought out- or in-patient treatment.

Employing any of all of these tips is beneficial for anyone with or without an internet usage disorder because they can also aid in avoiding the physical, mental, and emotional side effects of an internet addiction. Weight gain, back or neck pains, eye strain, and carpal tunnel syndrome can affect anyone who sits for prolonged periods of time at a desk and computer.

The Effects of Internet Addiction

Internet addiction is not something to be taken lightly. Beyond the physical ramifications of the sedentary lifestyle resulting from prolonged computer use, studies on internet-addicted young people have also shown negative effects on the brain structures that are involved in emotions, self-control, and decision making, which were similar to effects seen in people with substance addictions. The brain continues to develop until the ages of 25-30, so adolescents and young adults may fall into behavioral addictions more easily.

When You Have an Internet Addiction …

Recognizing internet addiction as a problem is an important first step, and seeking outside help and therapy can be a helpful option to help you regain your life, health, and time when the aforementioned lifestyle changes are not enough. Most importantly, know that you are not alone.  Adults and teens alike are susceptible to the same issue. Like a food addiction, an internet addiction is difficult to cope with because of how much of our everyday tasks may revolve around computers, and given life in the US, many people cannot simply give up using them.

Young people turn to the internet as an outlet for various reasons – social problems, coping issues, depression. Therefore, an in-patient treatment program that addresses all the underlying issues and not just the resulting addiction may be necessary. Wilderness therapy is one such option as it separates a person from the addiction sources and surrounds them with the people and means to aid in recovery and understanding why they abuse the internet. A whole-person wellness approach incorporates a healthy diet, exercise, and therapy with outdoor activities to achieve healing and balance. Students also learn tools and life skills that can be used throughout their lives, so they can be successful once they exit the program.



The Real World Leads To Real Happiness

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tips On Avoiding Video Game Addiction

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Disadvantages of Video Game Addiction

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

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

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

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

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