INTERNET ADDICTION IN ADOLESCENTS
Teens go through a period of intense growth, change, and development during their adolescence, which is never without some distress. Teens are faced with forging their own identities and making connections in a tough social world. The pressures of school are higher than ever. Some teens also grapple with difficult family situations, such as divorce.
Faced with these pressures, some teens turn to the Internet to cope. The Internet provides a world of infinite information and entertainment right at the user’s fingertips, from games to social websites to sexually explicit content. All of these factors can lure in teens who are looking for acceptance or escape, or who are trying to forge their own identity. In some cases, the gratification provided by Internet use can become addictive. Teens who already have depression or anxiety are at an especially high risk.
SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS
Teens with Internet addiction may display one or more of the following:
- Excessive Internet usage, often for hours every day
- Preoccupation with the Internet when not using it
- A sudden drop in grades
- Withdrawing from friends and family
- Withdrawing from normal hobbies and extracurricular activities
- Lying about Internet use
- Changes in sleep and eating schedules
- Physical side effects of Internet usage, such as eye strain and headaches
Sometimes, it can be hard to directly link Internet usage to a particular symptom. For example, most teens use the Internet on a daily basis, and sudden changes in interests and behavior can be normal in teens. This can make it easy for parents to rationalize. However, if you are concerned about your child’s Internet usage, it’s a good idea to seek a professional assessment.
Internet addiction in adolescents can be particularly serious because it can interfere with the essential emotional, intellectual, and social developments that occur during adolescence. At the same time, parents of adolescents have the opportunity to take a more active role in the treatment of Internet addiction, providing a high level of support. The motivation to heal can only come from the 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.
We are frequently discussing the topic of internet addiction on our Family Resource Blog.