There’s no denying that the internet has completely transformed the way we all think and operate in the world. It can seemingly enhance every aspect of our lives, from getting directions to finding that certain recipe.
For kids and teens, there’s no denying that it has positive effects, like easier research for school assignments and having access to information about other parts of the world at their fingertips. The negative consequences it can have, however, are immense.
There’s something about the internet that’s addicting to the human mind. It is so prevalent, in fact, that it even has a name: Internet Addiction Disorder (IAD). Studies have shown that it is an impulse control disorder, not unlike a gambling addiction. It impacts a person’s mind, social abilities, and more.
Internet addiction in teenagers can be caused by a few different things. For teens that like to play games online, the activity can actually cause endorphins to be released in the brain that are very similar to the ones released by drugs. This can cause an addiction to the activity, especially for teens who already suffer from anxiety, depression, or low self-esteem, as it can be a form of self-medicating.
Teenagers can also become addicted to the internet when they overuse it for socializing. For teens who find it difficult to socialize, the internet can seem like a place of solace from all of that. It’s a place where they can make friends from behind a screen, often forming an emotional attachment to online friends whom they’ve never met before. The sense of community, confidence, and acceptance that this can give is very enticing for teenagers.
Internet addiction in teenagers can show itself in the following ways:
- Preoccupation and rumination about the internet. Thinking about previous online sessions and/or anticipating the next time they can go online.
- Using the internet in increasing amounts of time in order to achieve satisfaction.
- Finding themselves online longer than they intended to be.
- Feeling restless, depressed, anxious, and moody when trying to cut back on internet usage.
- Negative effects on relationships, school, and health.
Some teens may try to hide their internet addiction in the hopes of keeping it up. However, if your son or daughter is suffering from tiredness, irritability, worsening grades, or dropping out of clubs and sports, that could be a sign that it’s serious. More warning signs can be found here.
If you know your teen is addicted to the internet, it can feel helpless as their parent. You may have tried to step in, but the power of addiction is strong. It may be time for something more powerful.
Wilderness therapy is a method that has been proven to be effective for teens suffering from internet addiction. At Pacific Quest, we aren’t like other wilderness therapy programs that you may have heard of. With a focus on individualized attention, supportive environment, and a commitment to safety, we maintain a 2:1 student/staff ratio as well as numerous on-site healthcare professionals. We also offer individual and group therapy, and each student is assigned a primary therapist in order to receive the most individualized treatment approach.
Because of our focus on mind-body connection, wilderness therapy at Pacific Quest can introduce natural and healthy ways of gaining that same confidence, community, and excitement that your teen is used to finding on the internet. Physical exercise and yoga release endorphins that aid in your child’s happiness, teaching their brain that this feeling can be gained in healthier ways. In addition, gardening and cooking for themselves and others provides a strong sense of community and confidence in their abilities. Pacific Quest provides teens with a healthy diet, a good sleep cycle, and regular exercise in order to achieve a healthier lifestyle.
On an organic farm in Hawaii, far from cell phones and the internet, teens at Pacific Quest can find a peace they never knew existed. Thanks to a sensory-rich environment, healthy lifestyle habits, and a sense of family community, teenagers who leave Pacific Quest no longer have a dependency on the internet, and have found countless ways to sustain that growth. Their lives have been forever changed for the better.
If you know that it’s time to point your teenager in a healthier direction and put a stop to their internet addiction, there is help. Learn more by visiting our website or call us today at 808-937-5806.