All Kinds of News for May 10, 2017
Trails Carolina, a wilderness therapy program for young people ages 10-17, offers therapeutic services which benefit teens who struggle with an addiction to video games, social media and other forms of technology. Similar to other addictions or fixations, removing the source of the addiction and spending time away from technology can have a positive impact on an individual’s overall behaviors. A wilderness therapy environment can be the ideal treatment option for an individual obsessed or addicted to technology.
“Wilderness therapy is an effective intervention for teens who struggle with technology addiction,” comments Shalene Pierce MSW, LCSW, Primary Therapist at Trails Carolina. “In the woods, teens are completely unplugged. They have no access to social media or video games. Instead, they are given the opportunity to socialize with their peers face to face.”
Often, overuse of video games or social media is a symptom of mental health challenges such as social anxiety and depression. Teens may use technology as a form of escape from the real world and may even develop an identity online or in video games separate from their true self.
“Many of the young men I help are addicted to role playing video games like World of Warcraft,” says Leigh Uhlenkott, MS, LPCS, NCC, LMHC, Primary Therapist at Trails Carolina. “It allows them to become someone else and immerse themselves in a world where they have friends. They can play these video games for many hours at a time and their health suffers from it. They don’t get up to eat, use the restroom or sleep. As a result, they are constantly tired, irritable and sluggish. They also suffer socially as a result.”
Young people who spend all of their time playing video games or using social media don’t have to develop social skills out in the real world.
“Students come to me lacking the social skills they’ll need to be successful in face to face interactions,” says Uhlenkott. “They don’t make eye contact and have trouble carrying on a conversation. Fortunately, after some time at Trails they begin to gain some of those social skills. After they are removed from technology for some period of time, they don’t seem to miss their video games.”
When students transition home from Trails, therapeutic staff assist throughout the process. For those teens who have struggled with technology addiction in the past, many therapists recommend removing video games from the home altogether and putting parental controls on computers.
“Like any addiction, there needs to be restrictions enforced,” says Pierce. “After quitting video games or social media cold turkey, it’s important to make sure that your teen gets involved in as many extracurricular and social activities as possible in order to stay away from the temptation of technology. If there are no restrictions, teens will most likely go back to video games or social media like they never left.”
About Trails CarolinaTrails Carolina is a wilderness therapy program based just outside of Asheville, North Carolina that offers a multi-dimensional wilderness therapy model to troubled adolescents, ages 10-17. Trails capitalizes upon the profound effects of a student’s wilderness experience, and then combines that experience with strong clinical assessments and therapy.