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Internet, Technology Creating Barriers between People

“A picture is worth a thousand words.”

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

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

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

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

Avoidance from erica rot on Vimeo.

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

Why is any of this important?

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

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

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

When Help Is Needed: Wilderness Therapy

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

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

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

Parent's Guide to Internet Addiction & Overuse

Isolation: Side of Effects of Technology & Internet Addiction

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

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

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

Connected to the Computer, Disconnected from the Real World

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

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

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

Wilderness Therapy for Video Game & Internet Addiction

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

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

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

Parent's Guide to Internet Addiction & Overuse

Escapist Behavior Internet & Video Game Addiction

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

Video Game Lifestyle & Addiction

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

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

Like Gambling

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

A Fresh Perspective through Wilderness Therapy

Pacific Quest wilderness therapy health wellness

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

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

Parent's Guide to Internet Addiction & Overuse

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.

Constantly Connected: Effects of Internet and Smartphones on College Students

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

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

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

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

The Age of Smartphones and Internet Addiction

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

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

What Can Help – Digital Detoxing, Wilderness Therapy

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

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

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

Wilderness Therapy: Walk in Harmony with the World

When it comes to internet addiction in teens, an inner transformation must happen first in order for an outer change to occur. Nature supplies the classroom with the greatest impact for engaging and changing teens in the deepest way. At Pacific Quest we provide opportunities for teens to take their lives into their own hands and out of the grip of internet addiction.

How Wilderness Therapy Can Help Teens Struggling with Internet Addiction

Pacific Quest wilderness therapy for adolescents

The therapeutic benefits of wilderness therapy for teens struggling with internet addictions include nurturing the ability to trust one’s community through the experience of teamwork, developing a healthier relationship with the issues of control, taking responsibility for one’s actions and how those actions impact others, increasing feelings of self-esteem, joy and pleasure, and establishing a deeper connection with the natural world. One of the significant goals of our wilderness therapy program is to provide teens with the opportunities and skills to deal with difficult situations, so they can draw upon these experiences in the recovery process and long after program completion.

The addiction treatment aspect for internet addiction, video game addiction, or computer addiction lays in the obvious removal of the technological dependence and replacing it with healthier habits. In addition, those teens addicted to games, Internet, or computers often forget to take even the most basic level of care for themselves. That’s why our philosophy of health and wellness is routed in the principles of naturopathic medicine. An understanding and routine of basic physical health are the foundation of Pacific Quest. Proper nutrition and diet, plenty of exercise and adequate sleep are emphasized and supported. Adolescents also explore the body-mind connection as an integral part of this foundation.

For decades wilderness therapists and outdoor educators have been incorporating the healing and restorative powers of nature into programs designed to help troubled teens overcome addictions and personal challenges, to learn how to regain control over their lives, and to put themselves back on the path to health and happiness.

Wilderness therapy is a unique alternative to long-term residential schools and treatment programs. It has proven to be highly effective in dealing with many teen related issues, behavioral struggles and abuse problems.

For more information, please call us: 808.937.5806, or visit http://www.pacificquest.org.

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.