Greater Awareness of Behavioral Addiction & Internet Addiction

internet addiction gamingThe Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) is released by the American Psychiatric Association and contains information on all mental disorders recognized by the US healthcare system as well as their diagnostic criteria. The latest edition, released last year, includes two interesting changes. First, the section describing substance-related and addictive disorders now includes gambling disorder. Second and perhaps more interestingly, the DSM-5’s Section III now lists internet gaming disorder, which designates it as a condition that should be researched further.

Including internet gaming disorder is a result of evidence coming from research done in several Asian countries of young people’s internet habits and preoccupation with the internet and online gaming. Known as “gamers,” these young people – mainly young males – play online games compulsively and ignore other aspects of their lives to their detriment. That research plus others are suggesting that mental pathways are being rewired in those people who exhibit high levels of preoccupation with internet gaming, and they’re experiencing pleasure and reward in much the same way substance addicts do.

The DSM-5’s changes are important because, as a group, behavioral addictions aren’t recognized as mental disorders, but now the DSM-5 is beginning to acknowledge the negative compulsive behavior behind some actions and that it may have greater mental health implications than previously thought. These moves create awareness and hopefully lead young people to check their own habits – and seek help if the problem is bigger than they realized.

Wilderness Therapy Helping Teens Overcome an Unhealthy Relationship with the Internet

From digital detoxes – weekends away from all technology – to internet addiction treatment centers, people are offering help and people are seeking help for excessive internet use. Though the DSM-5 has limited internet gaming addiction criteria to online games, it doesn’t mean people (non-gamers) don’t struggle with internet addiction issues that could include general internet use, online gambling, and social media.

Teens and young adults may be more susceptible to internet addiction issues. They’ve never known a world without the internet. Also, internet addiction may likely stem from other troubles in their lives, such as identity issues, low self-esteem, depression, or even ADHD, because the internet offers an outlet or escape, and they have not yet developed healthy coping skills.

Internet usage issues can quickly become complex, so where one goes for help dealing with it is important.  Wilderness therapy has been able to help troubled adolescents and young adults struggling with a variety of issues. The wilderness therapy program at Pacific Quest integrates a highly clinical approach with the holistic, using traditional clinical therapy with experiential learning through horticulture therapy to achieve healing and change. Beyond giving troubled adolescents a chance to get away from the source of their troubles, Pacific Quest’s unique approach that includes individualized care plans means it is equipped to help those struggling with internet addiction and the additional issues that may have contributed to it.

 

Does Internet Addiction Cause Depression and ADHD in Adolescents?

wilderness therapyInternet addiction is a growing concern that has been getting the attention of researchers, scientists, and therapists alike. The growing body of data shows that cases of true internet addiction are still the minority but also that excessive internet use is definitely a problem for many people.

As people are becoming aware of the effects and signs of internet usage disorder or addiction, questions arise as to whether excessive internet use is causing other mental and emotional issues, such as depression and attention deficit disorder (ADD) or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

Internet addiction has many signs and symptoms, which are the same for adults as well as adolescents. Some of these signs may present themselves like those of depression or ADHD, such as mood changed, irritability, poor academic performance, etc. Studies have not yet conclusively determined whether internet addiction causes other issues, but findings have shown that adolescents with internet addiction are more likely to suffer from depression or have ADHD. Based on current information, it is more likely that adolescents troubled by depression or ADHD are turning to the internet as an outlet, and as a result of excessive time spent online, they develop internet addiction or at least a mild dependency on the internet, video games, and online activities.

Treating Internet Addiction through Wilderness Therapy

Internet addiction can be a complex situation; it may be the cause or result of other issues. Medication is a limited treatment – one that cannot necessarily help with internet addiction, so seeking therapy may be more important than ever in order to for helping troubled adolescents struggling with internet addiction in addition to depression or ADHD.

Pacific Quest wilderness therapy has been committed to helping troubled adolescents and young adults dealing with a variety of issues, including

Pacific Quest is unlike any other wilderness therapy program. Using a combination of horticulture therapy and traditional clinical care, students change from troubled adolescents into self-confident and empowered youths with the skills and tools to survive and thrive once they have transitioned back into their home and lives after Pacific Quest. Because the internet is a tool of modern everyday life, these skills can greatly aid adolescents in monitoring themselves and their internet behavior. Pacific Quest creates individual care plans; no one student is alike, nor are the issues each one faces. With those and its highly clinical and experiential setting, Pacific Quest is uniquely qualified to help complex issues, such as internet addiction plus the issues that fuel it.

College Students, Young Adults – More Susceptible to Internet Addiction?

wilderness therapy, group therapyWhile many people may over-use the internet and related technology, some succumb to internet addiction, a compulsive need to be online that overtakes other hobbies and personal responsibilities. It’s possible some situations could leave people open to relying on the internet.

College provides one of the first tastes of freedom and independence for today’s adolescents and young adults. Being young and still developing – physically, emotionally, and mentally, young adults in college could end up feeling overwhelmed. And while college can be a fun and adventurous time, it can also be stressful, scary, and lonesome. Making friends could be difficult, and the work load and responsibility could be more than they’ve handled previously, so they’re caught unprepared. For some students, this could lead to anxiety or depression; coupled with a lack of good coping skills, parental supervision and guidance, they may turn to the internet and online activities.

Online activities can become a source of pleasure, comfort, or distraction from the more stressful aspects of college life. Social media gives a sense of connecting through superficial friendships; “leveling up” in online gaming offers positive reinforcement and success in a community-like environment. The more dependent a person becomes the more likely internet addiction can take hold. Excessive internet use is more of a byproduct as the internet is a conduit for their sense of escape.

If an internet usage problem exits, college students’ school performance and grades suffer, and they withdraw from real relationships with family and friends, become irritable or feel guilty when not online, and neglect personal responsibilities and even hygiene.

Wilderness Therapy for Troubled Young Adults

If internet addiction has become a problem for an adolescent or young adult, there’s a range of treatment options:

  • Self-discipline
  • Digital detox: a weekend removed from technology and temptation
  • Therapy sessions
  • In-patient internet addiction treatment programs
  • Wilderness therapy

Wilderness therapy for troubled adolescents and young adults has become a more widely known source of help and is no longer considering only a last resort. Wilderness therapy is an opportunity to get teens and young adults away from the source of their troubles and to be put in an environment that

Pacific Quest is a well-respected wilderness therapy program that has been able to help troubled adolescents and young adults dealing with a variety of issues. Because internet addiction is less about excessive internet use and more about the underlying factors for why a person turned to the internet in the first place, Pacific Quest is well-equipped to help internet-addicted young adults determine their true areas of struggle.

Located on an organic farm in Hawaii, young adults who enter the program get away from technology and truly detox in a calming and supportive environment. Through horticulture therapy and both individual and group therapy sessions, they explore the root causes of their internet addiction, learn healthy ways to cope and deal with their emotions, and gain life skills to serve them once they exit Pacific Quest’s wilderness program.

From Internet Overload To Over- Eating And Eating Disorders

Can internet addiction be related to obesity and eating disorders?
Possibly.
Can Pacific Quest’s Outdoor therapeutic program offer assistance for internet addiction related eating disorders?
Definitely.

Since teens and adolescent have begun to spend a disproportionate amount of time using and abusing the internet, many recent publications have started to pitch a rallying cry against the increased pressure caused by social media, the growth of celebrity culture, and the rise of anorexia websites. While factual data supports an additional increase in childhood obesity and even that eating disorders are continuing to soar among teens and adolescents, is social media/internet addiction really to blame?

Maybe the truth has nothing to do with playing the blame game. Because, in reality, eating disorders are a result of a combination and culmination of factors that are built up over time. Peer pressure and identity can play a major part, as can relationships, family troubles and academic concerns.

That being said, we also know that the 24/7 nature of social media and rampant internet addiction places huge pressures on our children and young people, which in turn can lead to significant emotional issues (with a society increasingly bombarded with celebrities and airbrushed images which give an impossible view of what ‘beautiful’ is).

Over load, Over Eat, Over IT All

It’s no secret that many teens are big fans of video games and the Internet. But for some young people, what started as an interest in technology, a means of entertainment, or a way to keep in touch with friends may morph into a serious behavior disorder. Teen internet addiction is marked by a progressive loss of control over one’s ability to avoid, regulate, or limit a behavior. In this case, the behavior in question is spending time on the Internet and eating poorly. Poor nutrition (failing or refusing to eat in order to remain online) is one of the major symptoms associated with teen internet addiction.

Sitting in front of a TV or computer screen for hours, eating nothing but junk will lead to over-eating and obesity. While comfort eating is not harmful in moderation, if it becomes a habit, corresponding directly to Internet addiction and a sedentary lifestyle, it can lead to obesity, food addiction and binge eating.

The prevalence of obesity and concern about its impact on public health has grown dramatically in the United States. In most cases, obesity results from a caloric imbalance-the number of calories consumed exceeds the number of calories expended. Sedentary lifestyles and the wide availability of low cost, calorie dense foods contribute to this energy imbalance.

Outdoor Therapy At Pacific Quest Can Help

The Pacific Quest gardens offer a dynamic medium for therapeutic growth. Central to the therapeutic model is the experiential nature of the program and holistic approach to wellbeing.  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. The five pillars of health: nutrition, sleep, movement, breathing and the body/mind connection are taught, role modeled and practiced as cornerstones of daily living and the foundation of ‘Whole Person Wellness’.

At Pacific Quest, we believe what we put in our bodies directly affects how we feel. The Pacific Quest diet has been developed to provide needed nutrition; take advantage of locally grown foods in Hawaii, and to allow for creativity and enjoyment for our young adults. We teach the basics of nutrition and how the body uses food as fuel. Purified water and herbal tea are the only liquids provided and participants are taught how sugary diets contribute to fluctuating blood sugar levels that cause mood changes and energy crashes. Students learn how to cook and prepare food using the freshest and most natural ingredients.

The Unique Program for Outdoor Therapy And Healthy Eating At Pacific Quest

  • Pacific Quest is the only outdoor therapy program, which uses Horticultural Therapy to support increased emotional health and wellbeing for adolescents and young adults. Horticultural therapy utilizes organic gardening in conjunction with proven therapeutic modalities to meet specific therapeutic treatment goals. Pacific Quest is the only outdoor therapy program to utilize this cutting-edge, client-centered, treatment model to enhance social, cognitive, and physiological functioning with the primary goal of improving health and inspiring motivation for change.
  • Organic gardening provides a living community where a variety of vital life skills may be practiced, mastered and generalized long after a young person’s Pacific Quest journey.
  • Pacific Quest is not corporately or remotely owned. Owners/operators live near the program and work side-by-side with staff on-site.
  • Pacific Quest operates in a mild and temperate climate year-round in calm, lush and peaceful surroundings.
  • Pacific Quest operates on privately controlled land (not public land).
  • At Pacific Quest, all adolescents and young adults sleep indoors in simple, yet modern bunkhouses.
  • Sustainable, practical life skills (vs. rarely used survival skills) are taught, practiced and mastered. (These skills include but are not limited to: time management, goal setting, organizational, planning, community living, meal planning and cooking, personal hygiene and grooming).

Pacific Quest inspires struggling adolescents to realize their full potential; it is a place offering young people and their families hope, unconditional support, and a chance for a new life.

For more information about Pacific Quest’s outdoor therapeutic program call us at: (808) 937-5806

Side Effects of Internet Addiction: Sedentary & Solitary

wilderness therapy for internet addictionIn recent years, newly created internet, gaming and technology addictions have forced adolescents, teens and young adults to adopt a more sedentary lifestyle than children of previous generations. With a myriad of electronic temptations indoors, today’s sedentary teens are suffering in areas of physical and mental health and well-being. The solitary existence has created a generation of youth with issues such as depression, anxiety, bullying, isolating, lack of communication skills, poor grades… the list goes on. Thanks to wilderness therapy and outdoor programs like Pacific Quest, there is a solution to this very sad situation.

Internet Addictions Side Effects

Internet and technology dependency inherently promotes a lifestyle that is not conducive to exercise and physical activity. Many teens tend to become so enthralled in games, Facebook, chats etc… that peeling them away from the phone, computer, TV or tablet can prove to be an ominous task.

Compounding the inactivity is the fact that teens who sit more, eat more …and this increased food intake isn’t usually made up of healthy food choices. More youth today are eating highly processed foods, rich in calories and often deplete in nutrition. It’s no secret that a sedentary lifestyle coupled with poor food choices is adding up to an epidemic of childhood obesity, replete with the potential for early onset of chronic health conditions, a shortened lifespan and a decline in physical fitness. Other side effects of internet addictions of all sorts can include carpal tunnel syndrome, dry eyes, migraine headaches, a decline in personal hygiene and backaches.

The convenience of doing everything from home has been known to cause some people to recoil from social situations. This trend has especially negative consequences with teenagers, for whom positive (and negative) social interaction help to form valuable personality and life lessons. In fact, replacements for real-life socializing may be resulting in higher cases of depression. (There is debate as to whether depression results from, or is a cause, or internet overuse. A study published in the “Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine” found depression, as well as ADHD and social phobia, to increase the chances of excessive Internet use in adolescents.)

There is also evidence suggesting that internet addictions & overuse can contribute to sleep disturbances… Later bed times, later waking times, less restful sleep and an overall decrease in sleep.

Obviously, parents could and should encourage their kids/teens to use the internet for school projects and some degree of entertainment, but limit the time that they are allowed to spend on the computer or with technology. They can support involvement in sports teams at an early age and make outside activities fun and interesting. (The earlier a child is introduced to the mental and physical benefits of outside activity, the more likely he or she is to avoid inside amusements such as the internet, TV, and video games.) However, what are parents to do when all else has failed and their children’s lives are dangerously getting worse?

What to do: Wilderness Therapy & Outdoor Therapy

The solution to sedentary and solitary addictions can be found in uniquely created outdoor therapy and wilderness therapeutic programs like Pacific Quest: Pacific Quest’s innovative Sustainable Growth model incorporates Whole Person Wellness, Individualized Clinical Care, Rites of Passage, Horticultural Therapy and Healthy Community Living in an outdoor, experiential environment. All of this facilitates health, awareness, healing, growth and life skills benefitting  teens and young adults with internet addictions.

“We create life-changing experiences for struggling adolescents and young adults. Our outdoor therapy programs help young people to make better choices and live healthier, more productive lives. Pacific Quest is an internationally recognized wilderness therapy program serving families from all over the world. Located on the Big Island of Hawaii, Pacific Quest goes beyond traditional wilderness therapy programs, cultivating change by teaching sustainable life skills in a clinically innovative and nurturing environment.”

The bottom line is that at it’s core, the newest trends in internet addictions are a community issue, not just and individual problem. Helping teens and young adults clear away the side effects of Internet Addictions takes a group effort. The programs available at Pacific Quest can jump start the change that might otherwise never happen! Young people leave the program seeing their purpose and potential more clearly, with a renewed sense of self. What better way is there to being a healthy contributing member of society?

To learn more call us at (808)937-5806 or visit: Pacific Quest

Breaking down Internet Addiction

wilderness therapy internet addictionInternet addiction is a very recent concept, which is easily understandable as the internet has been widely available for only the last two decades. This trouble with this uniquely modern struggle is that many people don’t accept it as a true problem.

Internet addiction is not yet considered a true addiction, but studies are showing that spending excessive hours online has some very real consequences.

The Medical Basis of Internet Addiction

Researchers have compiled a lot of data supporting the idea that people can develop a dependency on the internet and the devices that keep them connected – computers, smartphones, and tablets. The constant connectivity plus the instant feedback of our online activities elicits a positive response in our brains because of dopamine, that brain chemical that gets released when something good happens and is thought to be one contributing factor to substance abuse addiction. This feel-good cycle continues because we crave that the next dose of dopamine and stay logged on.

Many people overuse digital technology with only a small percentage suffering from true internet addiction. Still, it’s good to know the signs.

Becoming Aware: Identifying the Red Flags of Internet Addiction

  • Compulsively checking messages or browsing the web, perhaps unaware of your behavior
  • Experiencing withdrawal symptoms, like irritability and depression, when away from your computer or forced to turn off a device
  • Inability to set limits even when other aspects of your life begin to suffer, such as job/school performance and personal relationships

Health issues are also linked to internet addiction due to long hours of inactivity: physical issues such as joint pain, obesity, and even diabetes. Lack of sleep has its own set of consequences. Plus, constantly being connected can lead to increased levels of cortisol, the stress hormone that sets you up for anxiety or other stress-related illnesses.

Wilderness Therapy: Getting Away and Getting in Control

Adolescents and young adults may be more susceptible to developing internet addiction because their generation has always known a world with the internet. Increased numbers of adolescents have their own phones and computers, and unless parents monitor their behavior, unchecked internet use can cause problems.

One key to getting back in control is regulating internet use – much easier said than done when so much of modern life seems tied to technology. A digital detox – going away, perhaps to a treatment facility, for a weekend – can be an option for some. For others, a more prolonged remedy may be necessary, especially if internet addiction is the manifestation of something more. Wilderness therapy for troubled adolescents and young adults is one such option. They get away from their troubles and get to interact with nature.

Pacific Quest is a wilderness therapy program located in Hawaii. Organic gardens are used as a therapeutic source; students learn by doing. As they work at building and maintaining the gardens, they gain a sense of self, purpose, and confidence. Gardening and being in nature have been shown to help with anxiety and other mood regulation issues.

The Pacific Quest wilderness program immerses students in a supportive community setting but also creates individualized care plans for each person. Individual and group therapy enables students to explore their feelings, get feedback on their struggles, and share their new accomplishments and growth. Pacific Quest stresses sustainable growth and change. Internet addiction doesn’t end with the wilderness program, so Pacific Quest aims to provide adolescents and young adults with the tools and life skills that will serve them once they get home as well as long into the future and in any tough situation.

Internet Addiction: Teens, Take Back Control

Teens,
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.