Category: Technology

The “Selfie”: When Should Programs for Troubled Young Adults or Wilderness Therapy be Considered?

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Why the Selfie May be More Dangerous Than You Think

The term “selfie addict” may seem a bit far-fetched, but mental health professionals are quickly beginning to realize that there is in fact some truth to it. Becoming increasingly popular among children and teens, for some, taking pictures of oneself has been shown to have serious negative impacts. For teens that already suffer from mental disorders related to self-image, excessive selfie taking can worsen these already serious conditions. The behavior resulting from obsessive selfie taking can impact a teen's life negatively, and when this is the case and daily life has been impacted, treatment options including programs for troubled young adults such as wilderness therapy should be considered.

There is a link between “selfie addiction” and body image related disorders.

‘Selfie’, the Oxford Dictionary word of the year in 2013, is a photo that one has taken of oneself, usually with a smartphone or webcam, which is then shared on social media.

The selfie satisfies the desire to feel noticed, appreciated, recognized and socially accepted. A person may begin to judge his or her self-worth based on how many ‘likes’ their image receives on social media. This can become addictive. Selfies are also a narcissist’s best friend, and teens can become obsessed with capturing that “perfect” image.

For teens and young adults already battling body image issues and mental disorders, the selfie can actually become a very dangerous thing. Using the selfie to fill an intimacy gap or to boost self-esteem many indicate a much deeper emotional problem. For instance, for someone suffering from body dysmorphic disorder—the obsessive anxiety over one’s appearance—selfie taking can become fuel for the fire, driving one’s fixation over his or her perceived flaws and imperfections.

When a teen’s selfie taking begins to impact his or her life to the point of missing school, avoiding social interactions and generally interfering with daily functioning, it is time to seek treatment.

Cognitive behavior therapy works as a treatment for the disorders linked to “selfie addiction.”

Cognitive behavior therapy (CBT), a model utilized in wilderness therapy, helps a patient recognize the underlying issues that surround a particular behavioral disorder, and then helps patients to modify their thought patterns to manage their behavior better. CBT works to treat the root cause of a disorder by helping an individual to understand what prompts the negative behavior. Helping individuals to identify destructive patterns is the first step in providing them with the tools to overcome those patterns.

For excessive selfie takers, CBT can help to identify the underlying issues that fuel the compulsion to take self-images. For a person suffering from body dysmorphic disorder, excessive selfie taking is motivated by intense thoughts related to negative body image. CBT works to treat the behavior—the selfie addiction—by addressing those underlying negative thoughts in an introspective way. A patient is provided with the tools to manage the thoughts that control their behavior, and ultimately to modify that behavior for the better.

Parents need to take an active role in monitoring their child’s online presence.

Like them or not, selfies aren’t going anywhere. They are a part of the way we engage in social media and a main fixture in our online culture. As with almost anything, a healthy balance is key. Parents need to monitor their child’s social media profiles and be aware of the activities that they are engaging in online.

When children and teens begin to overstep the healthy limits of selfie taking, it is time for parents to intervene—before it gets out of control and develops into a more severe condition. Obsessive selfie takers require treatment. When daily life has been impacted and treatment is desired, contact Rites of Passage Wilderness at (800)794-0980 to learn more about our programs for troubled young adults through wilderness therapy.

The Warning Signs of Cyber-Bullying & How Wilderness Therapy Can Help

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The Warning Signs: How to Prevent Cyber-Bullying

One of the most serious issues facing adolescents today is cyber-bullying. Some parents may see bullying as a normal part of growing up, but what they do not realize is that with the access to technology and the lack of regulation online bullies face, teenagers have the ability to inflict greater harm than ever on their peers. When parents wonder how to prevent cyber-bullying, we have provided a list below warning signs, and suggested prevention methods including wilderness therapy programs.

What is cyber-bullying?

Cyber-bullying is when a child or teen is tormented, harassed, threatened, embarrassed, humiliated, and otherwise targeted by another child or teen online, through digital media, or with mobile phones. Cyber-bullying is often motivated by revenge, anger or frustration. It can also be done for entertainment, out of a sense of boredom, or as an attempt to show off or increase social standing. One thing that all incidents of cyber-bullying have in common is that they are intended to cause harm.

Cyber-bullying has serious mental and physical consequences. It has been linked to low self-esteem, family and school problems, violence, delinquent behaviour, mental health issues, and suicide. It also has the potential to lead to cyber-harassment or cyber-stalking, which are criminal offenses.

Forms that cyber-bullying can take:

  • Emails
  • Text messaging or instant messaging
  • Chat rooms and bulletin boards
  • Blogs, websites, and social media accounts
  • Interactive gaming
  • Online polling
  • Sending pornography and junk email
  • Sending malicious code
  • Online impersonation
  • Stealing passwords

This is by no means a comprehensive list of the ways in which a person can cyber-bully someone. A person may distribute inappropriate photos of a person via a mass email; they may create a website or blog to mock the individual; they may torment a person in the comments section of a social media account; they may impersonate an individual online; they may communicate with threatening language over online gaming platforms. Nearly every way of using technology to communicate can be used to destroy a person’s reputation, and teens are imaginative.

Parents need to be aware of the signs that their child may be involved in cyber-bullying.

Red flags that your child may be a cyber-bully:

  • Secretive about online activities
  • Quickly switches screens or closes programs
  • Uses the computer throughout the night
  • Gets angry if they are not allowed to use computer
  • Laughs excessively at the computer
  • Uses multiple online accounts or accounts that are not them

Red flags that your child may be a victim of cyber-bullying:

  • Suddenly stops using the computer
  • Appears nervous or anxious when receiving an email, instant message or text message
  • Avoids school or social activities
  • Seems angry or depressed (particularly after computer use)
  • Secretive about online activities
  • Withdraws from family and friends

What can parents do?

Parents must take an active role in monitoring their child’s online behavior. Take note of any significant changes in conduct and talk with your teen about the seriousness of cyber-bullying.

If you suspect your child may be bullying a peer, address the issue head on and establish consequences. If you think your child may be a victim, do not remain silent, and do not consider their online harassment a part of growing up. Above all, provide unconditional love and support—this could be the most difficult thing your teen has faced in his or her life.

Wilderness therapy can help to address issues related to cyber-bullying.

Wilderness therapy distances the participant from the reaches of social media. It offers a chance for internal reflection and emphasizes personal growth. It focuses on the feelings and emotions that underlie behavior and works to correct negative thought patterns and create healthy habits.

For bullies and victims alike, wilderness therapy is an opportunity to develop the coping skills and management tools needed to navigate the pressures of adolescence and to help young people to make better choices by taking responsibility for themselves and their actions.

To learn about how to prevent cyber-bullying, utilizing wilderness therapy programs, contact Rites of Passage Wilderness today at (800)794-0980 for information regarding our programs.

Going Outdoors: Wilderness Therapy as a Technology Addiction Treatment

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Wilderness Therapy as a Technology Addiction Treatment

Many teens spend more time with their face buried in an electronic device than they do enjoying the outdoors. This addiction to technology is starting to have serious health consequences as teens are becoming less active in exercising their minds and bodies. Wilderness therapy can correct this reliance by introducing participants to a number of personal coping tools and management skills that can eliminate their constant need to turn to technology. It also introduces them to nature, which on its own has the power to transform a young person’s life.

Approximately half of all teenage boys and a quarter of teenage girls spend more than 40 hours a week in front of an electronic screen, such as a computer, mobile phone, or TV. A strong reliance on technology is generally accompanied with a withdrawal from social interactions and can be an indication of a more severe behavioral or mental problem.  Many components of  wilderness therapy can assist with such an addition including technology addiction. As participants do not have the option in the wilderness of utilizing electronic devices, they are not able to connect.

Too much “screen time” is associated with:

  • Obesity
  • Smoking
  • Alcohol and substance use
  • Aggressive and violent behavior
  • Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder
  • Poor academic performance
  • Poor social skills
  • Depression
  • Emotional disconnection

Teens who have an unhealthy reliance to their technological devices are not going to be easy to treat. Their habits are hard formed and their access to technology is difficult to restrict. They also like their electronic toys. It is challenging to help a teen overcome an addiction to electronics when they do not view their own behavior as destructive.

Separation is key when successfully conquering an unhealthy addiction to electronic devices.

Wilderness therapy addresses this particular issue in a way that no other treatment can. After all, there are no electronics in the wilderness. Participants simply do not have the option to connect with their electronic device; they no longer have the means to engage in destructive behavior.

Participants re-evaluate current values and goals without the crutch of technology to distract them and they are forced to address the issues that prompt them to turn to electronics. They reflect, write journals, and discuss the reasons for their behavior, and by doing so they develop new habits to take home.

The process facilitates independence and self-control, and upon returning home, participants are equipped with the tools to make better choices and manage their lives in a healthier way. They leave with an ability to balance their activities and behaviors appropriately and the desire to make good decisions when it comes to their technology use.

Being in nature can be transformative for a teen that is addicted to technology.

With nature as the background for treatment, wilderness therapy is particularly effective. Being outdoors is shown to increase physical and mental wellbeing. Nature can be very challenging, which helps to develop strength of will and determination. It is also peaceful and calming, and is the perfect setting for mediation and personal reflection.

The power of nature coupled with therapeutic treatment can help teens to overcome their reliance to technology by transforming the way that they view their place in the world. To learn more about wilderness therapy as a technology addiction treatment, contact Rites of Passage Wilderness today at (800)794-0980.

‘Video Game Addiction’ is Real, and Dangerous: What Is Video Game Addiction Treatment?

Video game addiction is a very real problem amongst young people, that simply did not exist before the 1980s. It is estimated that up to 75 percent of young persons play video games on a regular basis. For most, this is not a problem. However, for others, gaming can become an addiction just as an alcoholic is addicted to alcohol, or a gambler is addicted to gambling. There is no specific category as of yet in the DSM-IV for video game addictions, but its attributes clearly fall under the addiction umbrella when diagnosing.

How can you tell if your child has a problem with gaming? There are very specific things to watch out for if a parent is trying to discern if their child has a problem with gaming. Warning signs may include a child spending all of his non-school time gaming, gaming in private or secret, loss of interest in activities, poor academic performance, and responsibility avoidance. A child that spends too much time gaming may also suffer from headaches, nausea, insomnia, dry eyes, and other problems, and may also have a co-occurring disorder with food, eating too much or too little.

The key to combating video game addiction is complete abstinence and separation from the device. Parents at home may have a hard time doing this. Older kids can easily go to friends' houses to play, or to arcades. Here at Rites of Passage NW, there are no video game consoles or systems. We have no nearby cell towers, so even if mobile devices were allowed, Wi-Fi does not exist here. After some time rediscovering nature and life, our teens learn how to life live without the use of video games. Teens will also participate in group and individual therapy sessions to help get at the root of the addiction problem.

When Tech Replaces Values, How Wilderness Therapy Can Help

We have all become reliant on technology in our daily lives, to some extent. For a troubled teen the reliance can be even more detrimental. Online persona often becomes more important to a teen than how she is perceived in her actual life. It is especially difficult for a teen to become “unplugged” from reality if she’s never been forced to unplug from the technology. For this reason, there are many benefits wilderness therapy can provide in this regard.

The effects of too much technology include:

  • Poor health and diet
  • Reduced physical fitness
  • Family values no longer important
  • Disconnected emotionally
  • Decreased personal interaction
  • Withdrawal from extracurricular activities
  • Depression
  • Poor academics
  • Development of a narcissistic personality
  • Alcohol and drug use
  • Video game addiction

The overuse of technology can result in a variety of mental, physical and social problems.

A strong reliance on technology generally comes with the withdrawal from social interactions. Social skills are not developed and individuals can become self-involved and introverted. In the most serious cases, an overuse of technology can lead to a substance abuse problem or an addiction to gaming. An advantage to wilderness therapy in addressing these issues is that there is no technology in nature. Participants are made to engage in the behaviors that technology hinders, such as social interaction and physical activities. 

Wilderness Therapy is about re-prioritizing one’s values in life. Without the crutch of technology, participants are forced to address core issues. Importance is placed on having participants look at their overall direction in life and figure out how they want to proceed into the future. They leave being able to manage their technology use in a healthy and responsible way. 

Wilderness therapy begins by removing all of the negative items the child wouldn’t go thought before (cell phone, internet, social media). It then addresses problems in a way that a clinical setting cannot. When completely removed from familiar and habitual situations a person does not have the means to continue destructive behaviors. For instance, they cannot meet up with their friends online to chat and check a Facebook page. This type of program strips away the false ideological ideas of what is important in life, and what comes to the surface is a re-prioritization of values.

What do participants of wilderness therapy leave with?

  • Realization that family is the most important thing
  • Desire and ability to make good decisions
  • Fostered independence
  • Self-reliance
  • Social and team skills
  • Willingness to make big changes back home

Children and Young adults are not faced with the same challenges as their parents and grandparents. There are very different inputs than those of the past, and, in many cases, these inputs do not promote the family structure. No doubt technology enriches and makes our daily lives easier, but spending too much time with technology is actually doing more harm than good. Wilderness therapy facilitates the removal of a person’s dependence on technology and allows them to evaluate current values and goals.