Young Adult Wilderness Therapy for Technology Addiction
These days, it has become socially acceptable to be glued to technology and to have a hard time separating oneself from their personal device. We don’t leave the house without our phones and we stay up later due to the stimulation of blue light technology. The reason that technology use has been tied to mental health issues in young adults is not the design of technology itself, but rather because it is associated with greater levels of social withdrawal in favor of tuning into social media, video games, and other forms of media.
The guide is meant to be comprehensive, but as such, not every section will be applicable to everyone. Instead, we invite you to click on the links in the table of contents to jump to the sections that most interest you.
What are the Causes of Technology Addiction?
Through adolescence, teens may spend more time playing video games with their friends or talking to friends on social media after school, but young adults are more likely to turn to the Internet by themselves to escape stressors and responsibilities in their everyday lives. Sometimes, young adults find that they prefer the Internet world to their current social environment and begin to see the “real world” through a critical lens. Social media allows them to keep in touch with those friends without ever having to reach out.
Time spent online isn’t the only risk factor for technology addiction in young adults. It matters more how they feel after using technology or how they react when technology access is limited.
Young adults are more at risk of developing a technology addiction if they:
- Struggle with depression and anxiety
- Lack social support and are looking to connect with virtual friends
- Are less mobile or socially active than they once were
- Have been diagnosed with ADHD and struggle with self-monitoring
- Have multiple personal devices, especially if they have a TV or access to video games in their bedrooms
- Lack motivation to explore career opportunities and new relationships
- Engage in other addictive behaviors
What are the Signs of Technology Addiction in Young Adults?
The concept of technology addiction is a relatively new phenomenon. The World Health Organization officially recognized Gaming Disorder in the newest edition of the International Classification of Diseases last year after recognizing that it had become a major public health issue among young people. Acknowledging the emotional and physical impact of technology addiction gives clinicians a better understanding of how to decide when technology use begins to affect one’s daily functioning and future goals.
According to the WHO, signs of Technology Addiction include:
- Impaired control over technology use (frequency, intensity, duration)
- Increased priority given to technology over other interests
- Continuation or escalation of technology use despite negative consequences
- Increased interpersonal conflict or social withdrawal
- Distress when access to technology is limited
How Does Wilderness Therapy Help Break the Cycle of Technology Overuse?
Young adults learn more from experience than from anything they’re told or read about. Spending more time outside the house, in nature or elsewhere, helps them to foster real-life connection and curiosity. Wilderness therapy programs are designed to offer real-world experiences to young adults who struggle with social withdrawal, low motivation, and depression. Between outdoor adventure activities, community service, and group therapy, young adults have the opportunity to develop meaningful relationships and learn more about themselves and the role they may want to play in society.
We live in a society where it may feel impossible for young adults to stay unplugged, but taking a break from the Internet and social media can be restorative for teens who are used to the comfort zone of tiny glowing screens. Adventure activities serve as an outlet for the anxiety that they may feel disconnected from the online world and introduces them to alternate activities to engage in once they re-integrate into the world of clocks.
Wilderness therapy programs teach young adults to live in the moment and develop structure and routine in their lives. This helps them to be more present and let go of the things they don’t have control over. By following a daily schedule, young adults get a glimpse of how to structure their days with both responsibilities and recreation that helps them prepare to integrate healthy habits into their lives as they transition back into the community.
How Does blueFire PulsaR Help Young Adults with Technology Addiction?
- Participating in a variety of outdoor activities. Adventure therapy is about more than just hiking–there is something for every young adult to enjoy! Through exciting adventure-based activities like mountaineering and bouldering, clients step outside of their comfort zone and build translatable skills such as leadership, teamwork, and accountability.
- “Real-world” comforts at base camp. It is an adjustment to leave behind technology and venture out into the wilderness, especially for young adults struggling with technology addiction. While many wilderness programs are nomadic, blueFire PulsaR follows a base camp model. Base camp allows for a greater sense of normalcy with showers, phone conferences with family members, and laundry. When it’s cold, we shift inside to heated Geodesic domes and propane-heated yurts. Night groups are done inside with lights illuminating the way.
- Community service component. On a regular basis, we bring clients to local environmental programs, community service efforts, and agencies to give back to the community. Service work has many benefits–improving well-being, boosting relationship skills, learning through experience, and helping prepare for future careers.