WIRED: Helping Your Teen Unplug from the Digital World Disrupted Sleep Patterns/Poor Sleep Hygiene:
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Transcript of WIRED: Helping Your Teen Unplug from the Digital World Disrupted Sleep Patterns/Poor Sleep Hygiene:
WIRED: Helping Your Teen Unplug from the Digital World Freedom from compulsion, Motivation for change, and Renewed hope for the future.
WIRED: Helping Your Teen Unplug from the Digital World 4
Tech Overuse vs Problematic Use, Abuse and/or Addiction 5
Why Some Teens are More Vulnerable to Electronics Abuse/Addiction 6
Ways to Help Your Teens with Problematic Electronics Use/Abuse 7
The Importance of Early Intervention 8
Effective Treatment Options for Problematic Electronic Use 9
What is Wilderness Therapy and How Does it Help Teens with Problematic
Electronic Use? 10
How to Support Your Teen Electronics Abuse/Addiction Treatment 11
In this white paper, we discuss problematic video game and internet use, reasons that teens escape
into the digital world, ways parents can help at home, and an overview of treatment options. We
focus on wilderness therapy, because it represents a full behavioral and clinical intervention.
This white paper is written for parents and guardians of teens struggling with problematic video
game and internet use and/or abuse, with the intention of providing solutions and resources for
families of adolescents struggling with behavioral, psychological or emotional challenges.
WIRED: Helping Your Teen Unplug from the Digital World In today’s increasingly digital world, many parents are concerned about the amount of time their teens spend
on their tablets, smartphones, video game consoles, and laptops. While it is unrealistic to completely “unplug”
and “disconnect” from our electronic devices, there is a point where video game and internet use becomes
Although some people may debate about whether video game and internet abuse can spiral into a legitimate
addiction, under brain scans, both substance abuse addiction and electronics addiction share a similar
neurological footprint.Research shows that problematic video game and internet use is harmful to one’s
physical and mental health.
1. In this paper we will address the following topics:
2. Tech Overuse Versus Problematic Use, Abuse, and/or Addiction
3. Why Some Teens are More Vulnerable to Electronics Abuse/Addiction
4. Ways to Help Your Teen with Problematic Electronics Use and/or Abuse
5. The Importance of Early Intervention
6. Effective Treatment Options for Problematic Electronics Use
7. What is Wilderness Therapy and How Does It Help Teens with Problematic Electronics Use?
8. How to Support Your Teen Through Electronics Abuse/Addiction Treatment
4 Helping Your Teen Unplug from the Digital World
Tech Overuse Versus Problematic Use, Abuse, and/or Addiction Since this is a fairly recent phenomenon, many parents are unsure of what video game addiction looks like. Many of the symptoms of video game addiction and Internet Gaming Disorder are congruent with the symptoms of a substance abuse addiction. As mentioned earlier, under brain scans, both share a similar neurological footprint. Here are the most common symptoms and signs of video game addiction and/or Internet Addiction Disorder in teens:
1. Preoccupied, absorbed, or obsessed with video games and/or their tablet, smartphone, or laptop
2. Withdrawal symptoms, including anger, anxiety, or irritability when access to video game console, smartphone, tablet, or computer is limited or taken away
3. Academic problems such as dropping grades, missing assignments, disengagement from or sleeping in class
4. Disinterest in other hobbies or activities they used to enjoy. Choosing video games, smartphone, tab- let, or computer over friends, sports, and hobbies
5. Covering up or lying about the amount of time spent playing video games or on the internet
6. Isolation from peer group
7. Using video games or the internet as a crutch or escape from negative emotions, stress, and anxiety
8. Avoiding responsibilities such as schoolwork, chores, or after-school job in favor of gaming or the internet
9. Disregard for personal hygiene or other important life skills
10. Significant change in eating and/or sleeping patterns
Building up a “tolerance” in video game sessions or internet sessions; person needs to play or engage more to get the same satisfaction, or gets little satisfaction but still feels compelled to engage
If you have read the signs of electronics overuse above, and are concerned about your child’s screen use, speak with his or her physician, mental healthcare provider, or educational consultant.
Why Some Teens are More Vulnerable to Electronics Abuse/Addiction Some teens are better equipped emotionally to casually play video games or use the internet periodically with no problems disconnecting from the digital world. While excessive video game and internet use has the potential to turn into abuse or addiction for any teen, there are some teens who are more vulnerable to electronics abuse and/or addiction. For teens who are grappling with an emotional, psychological, or neurodevelopmental issue, unplugging from their devices may prove to be a bigger struggle, as these teens may be using video games or the internet as a way to escape from life’s real issues.
1. Developmental or neurological issue (i.e. ADHD, Autism Spectrum Disorder, Oppositional Defiant Disorder.) Teens who have neuro-developmental issues such as these can have problems problems with a lack of self awareness/self control, impulse control, and may struggle with social skill deficits. These teens are especially vulnerable to electronics addiction since video games and the internet provide easier ways to relate to others. In addition to the appeal of the digital world for these teens, issues with impulse control can make it harder for them to stop.
2. Anxiety: Since depression and anxiety are often associated as “adult” problems, these can go undiagnosed in children and teens. This is a misconception, as anxiety and depression often appear during adolescence. Video game and internet overuse and addiction often coincide with anxiety and depression as an unhealthy coping mechanism. Escaping into the digital world is a way some teens handle uncomfortable emotions.
3. Depression: Each teen displays symptoms of depression differently. Some teens who are depressed will display typical symptoms of depression: isolation from peers, changes in sleeping and eating patterns, and irritability. Others may engage in more dangerous coping mechanisms such as self harm, risky sexual behavior, or substance abuse. If your teen is escaping into the virtual world, it may be the way he or she is dealing with depression. But this would be considered an unhealthy coping skill.
4. Any unresolved family conflict: Some teens are not emotionally equipped to deal with a major family conflict or trauma. Even adults have trouble dealing with these issues. Since teens don’t yet have the tools or skills to cope with negative feelings some will escape into video games or the internet as an unhealthy way to cope with things that are out of their control, such as:
7. Adoption issues
8. Low Self Esteem/Bullying from Peers: Teens who experience bullying can often experience feelings of social isolation, loneliness, anxiety, low self esteem, and fear. When teens are overwhelmed with these emotions, escaping to a digital world with the chance to be any avatar they want with any characteristics they desire can be very appealing. The opportunity to immerse themselves in the digital world can also be a way for teens to make virtual friends while doing something they may excel at.
6 Helping Your Teen Unplug from the Digital World
Problematic electronics usage is something that should be addressed promptly. In addition, any underlying mental health or emotional issues should be addressed to ensure that your child is using healthy coping mechanisms to address negative emotions, rather than turning to digital media to escape from one’s real life feelings and issues.
Ways to Help Your Teen with Problematic Electronics Use and/or Abuse If you are concerned about the amount of time your child is spending on his or her video game console, tablet, smartphone, or laptop, there are steps you can take to try and limit use, depending on the severity of his or her use.
ESTABLISH RULES, LIMITS, AND CONSEQUENCES
If your child’s electronics use is getting out of hand, the first step is to make your expectations clear. Make sure to talk to your c