Social media has become an integral component of social interaction in our society, especially among adolescents. At the same time, video game designers have focused more and more on giving games a social component to add to games’ already addictive nature. When it comes to potential electronic addiction, there’s something for everyone. Statistically, adolescent girls spend more time on social media sites while adolescent boys spend more time gaming. Additionally, it seems that just about everyone has a smartphone, so we have access to electronic media all the time.
Electronic media is not inherently bad. In fact, it can greatly enrich our lives when used in moderation. Just like anything else, however, it can become a detriment if we let it control important aspects of our lives and become an addiction.
So, when has the line between healthy and unhealthy been crossed, and what can wilderness therapy do to help your teenage child get their life back? We’ll start with a few basic signs of electronic addiction, then we’ll talk about wilderness therapy and why it’s so effective.
Briefly, a few signs of electronic addiction include (but certainly are not limited to):
- • Irregular sleep patterns
- • Unhealthy diet
- • Anxiety and irritability
- • Isolation from friends and family
- • Symptoms of withdrawal when the smartphone or device is taken away
- • Decreased academic performance
As a parent, these symptoms are probably pretty frightening. Fortunately, electronic addiction can be cured. Often, the cure is simple communication. The first step is to sit down with your child. Then, you’ll want to talk with his or her teachers and guidance counselor about the problem. A therapist can also be a helpful resource. If you feel that the problem has gone too far and these measures don’t seem to help, you may want to look into a wilderness therapy program.
Wilderness therapy programs have several advantages over simple outpatient therapy programs. The wilderness itself is an incredibly powerful therapeutic tool. Of course, separating the teen from their electronic devices for an extended period of time loosens the addiction’s hold over them. That, however, isn’t the only difference.
- • Teens learn to do things for themselves. This empowers the student and builds self-worth and self-confidence.
- • Teens learn they are unable to control their environment, so they must modify their behavior to get by.
- • Teens learn to appreciate simple things like food, water, and shelter. This adds to their appreciation of all their families do for them.
- • Teens learn to work together — to communicate and cooperate. They learn the value of teamwork.
- • Many of the teens who experience our program discover a healthy love for the outdoors.
Outback’s Unplugged program has proven to be extremely effective in treating gaming, social media, and smartphone addiction. There are steps that can be taken before sending your teen to wilderness therapy, but in many cases wilderness therapy is the only treatment that will help. These types of addictions are not to be taken lightly. Often, they will only get worse if left untreated. Get help immediately if your child is showing symptoms of electronic addiction. You’ll be glad you did.