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
- 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
- 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.