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What to Say When Your Teen Is Addicted to the Internet?

What to Say When Your Teen Is Addicted to the Internet?

Internet use is growing at an alarming rate among adolescents and teenagers. A recent report revealed 92% of teens go online daily, 56% several times a day, and 24% almost constantly. That same report indicates that U.S. teenagers between the ages of 13 and 17 spend an average of six and a half hours on screen media use.

Many parents are unaware that their child has become addicted to the Internet to the point where they can no longer function in their daily lives. It poses a severe threat to your child’s physical and mental health. Helping your child will require educating yourself about internet addiction and getting help as soon as possible.

The Effect of the Internet on the Teen Brain

For most with internet addiction, the Internet activates the reward system within their brain the same way alcohol does when a person with a substance use disorder takes a drink or a drug. This happens because the brain releases dopamine, making them feel happy and excited. It feels so good that they want to experience it again and again. Over time many teens become desensitized to this artificial stimulation, so they need more and more activity to get the same effect.

A recent study from the University of California, Los Angeles found that heavy use of digital devices can lead to significant changes in the brain. Researchers scanned the brains of teens and young adults ages 14 to 21. Those who engaged in seven or more hours of screen time daily had lower levels of brain connectivity in regions associated with attention and emotional control than those who spent an hour or less using electronic devices every day.

Recognize the Signs of Internet Addiction in a Teen

If your teen is spending hours daily on the computer, it’s time to look at their behavior. Here are some signs that your child may be suffering from an internet addiction:

  • They seem depressed or moody without their phone or computer.
  • They rely on the Internet for support and comfort rather than friends and family.
  • Dropping grades or interest in school.
  • Not eating or sleeping well.
  • Becoming defensive when confronted about their behavior, or they cannot stop using the Internet or set limits on their time spent online.
  • Lying to others about how much time you spend online.
  • Avoiding other activities because of their Internet use.
  • Losing track of time while online so that hours have passed without them realizing it.
  • Failing to meet responsibilities at home, school, or work because of Internet use.

What Causes Internet Addiction in Teenagers?

If you’re worried about internet addiction, do not blame yourself or your child. Addiction is a complex disease and often has its roots in other issues. Teens who spend too much time on the Internet could become addicted to gaming, pornography, gambling, and social media. Other factors that lead to internet addiction include:

  • Stress: For some teens, the online world provides an escape from stressors in real life, such as school problems, family problems, or social problems.
  • Family environment: Family conflict, including low family cohesion, a lack of warmth in the family environment, and not feeling supported by parents, can lead to some teens seeking support online.
  • Social Difficulties: Some teens have difficulty interacting socially. They may find it easier to interact with others online and have more confidence when chatting online than face-to-face.
  • Low Self-Esteem: Teens who have low self-esteem may feel better about themselves online than they do offline.
  • Having a genetic predisposition for addiction: If you have a family history of addiction, your child may be more likely to develop an internet addiction.
  • Mental health issues: If your child suffers from ADHD, depression, anxiety, or another mental health issue, they may turn to the Internet to escape these feelings.
  • Need for approval: Teens feel the need to constantly update their status, post pictures, and keep up with what is happening in their friends’ lives.

Treatment Options for Teens Suffering From Internet Addiction

Parents can utilize the following tools to assist their children with treatment.

  • Set time limits: It’s hard for kids to control their behavior and therefore need some structure. Establish times when the Internet is unavailable. If you’re worried about this being too strict, consider it a temporary measure until your child can control their behavior.
  • Residential or intensive outpatient treatment: Teens can enter a treatment center. Here teens will participate in individual and group therapy, psychoeducation, holistic therapies, and 12-Step outpatient or residential treatment meetings.
  • Cognitive-behavioral therapy: Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is the most effective treatment for teens suffering from Internet addiction. CBT focuses on changing thinking patterns and behaviors associated with an addictive disorder.
  • Dialectical behavior therapy: This type of therapy focuses on helping people manage their stress levels, improve their communication skills and avoid maladaptive behaviors like excessive internet use and substance abuse.
  • The 12-step program or SMART Recovery: While these recovery groups serve people with alcohol or substance abuse, their methods apply to behavioral addictions like internet addiction.
  • Block certain sites: Specific sites, like gaming and porn, are exceptionally addictive; consider blocking them on your computer or installing filters.

There’s no doubt that the internet serves as an excellent tool for learning, entertainment, and communication. However, it can pose many potential dangers for teens, particularly vulnerable to addiction. Fortunately, they can treat this condition. At Clearfork Academy, our treatment options include outpatient therapy, support groups, and self-help programs. We understand that it may take time to achieve full recovery; luckily, our resources and staff will work to find treatment and therapies that meet your teen’s individual needs. Such measures will help your teen recover from their internet addiction and help them channel that energy into productive, healthy activities. If your child is dealing with an addiction to the internet, don’t wait another moment. We will provide your teen with the professional treatment they need to begin their recovery. Once your teen completes treatment, they will gain their self-esteem and confidence. To learn more, contact us today at (888) 966-8604.

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Navigating Mental Health Content in the World of Social Media

Navigating Mental Health Content in the World of Social Media

As humans, our need for connection is necessary to thrive in life and feel a sense of self-worth. While social media offers this sense of connection, there are some negative aspects to the content you consume. If not handled appropriately, mental health content can be among the most misleading and damaging content. Since mental health is becoming more discussed on social media, it is important to control what content you read.

Positive Effects of Social Media

When used the right way, social media offers many benefits. Some positives of social media include:

  • Staying Connected: Social media allows you to keep in contact and communicate with friends, family, and people from around the world. Connection is an integral part of everyday living. Apps like Instagram allow you to share pictures of your favorite moments in life and share them with your loved ones.
  • Providing a Creative Outlet: Many people use social apps as a creative outlet. Artists such as painters, writers, and musicians can post their work, generate a following, and develop a career.
  • Networking: In today’s society, networking is a big part of growing a community and meeting new people. Social media allows you to connect and meet potential business partners from across the world. If you struggle with social anxiety, this is a great way to meet people without the anxiousness that could come from meeting in person.

Negative Effects of Social Media

Social media also has many negative aspects. The negatives of social media include:

  • Cyberbullying: People tend to feel bolder online because they do not need to worry about physical interaction. However, this can lead to cyberbullying, which consists of people leaving rude, unwanted, and opinionated comments on your posts. Cyberbullying can affect your mental health and perpetuate disorders such as depression, anxiety, and body dysmorphia.
  • Social Media Addiction: Studies have found that some individuals can develop an addiction to social media. While not considered an actual disorder or diagnosis, it is a form of behavioral addiction. Social media addiction is the uncontrollable urge to commit more time to social media than interacting in person.
  • Feelings of Inadequacy or Self-absorption: Social media has become about sharing selfies, posting body transformations, and personal achievements. While there is nothing wrong with posting this kind of content, overindulgence is a form of self-absorption. It could make you feel inadequate because you believe you don’t measure up to these standards or get as many likes on your selfies as others. It can also worsen symptoms of disorders such as depression or body dysmorphia.

Filter Who You Follow

One of the best ways to control your online experience is to regulate who you follow. Make sure you are following accounts posting accurate and positive mental health content. There are blogs and accounts dedicated to spreading mental health awareness that post information about disorders and ways to cope. You can also follow organizations or people who are advocates and share personal stories.

Follow Credible Sources

Social media is also a host for misinformation and stereotypes about mental health. Here are a few credible sources to follow on social media instead:

Report Harmful Posts

Misinformation about mental health creates stigmas and influences people toward taking the wrong steps to get help. However, most apps give you the option to report such harmful or disturbing posts. If you come across content that speaks about mental health in a degrading or damaging way, take the time to report the post. Reporting posts not only helps you manage your social media algorithm but helps prevent the spread of harmful posts for others to consume.

Reporting harmful posts will also allow the app to establish boundaries and standards for its users. While you cannot eradicate all negative posts, taking time to report such posts will help cultivate a positive community.

Take Some Time Off

Social media can become addicting, and you may find yourself spending hours upon hours using social media. It is not healthy to consume a large amount of information from other people’s lives daily.

Taking time to step away from social media is great for your mental health. However, you might struggle to unplug from social media. If you have difficulty getting away from social media, try to set specific hours that you cannot engage in social media throughout the day. Having a set schedule will help you stay focused and accountable. You might use this time to read, draw, journal or have physical interactions with friends and family.

Social media is one of today’s most influential platforms for teens, which may lead your child to try unhealthy coping strategies such as substance use. Clearfork Academy can help. Our treatment programs include highly trained and certified staff members that offer a compassionate approach. Located on an inviting and charming ranch, we provide a home away from home for teens in need of substance use and mental illness treatment. Whether your teen is going through our inpatient or outpatient programs, our sole focus will be on recovery and creating a healthy and drug-free lifestyle for your teen. While we do not exclude smartphones, we do provide a space free of social media to allow teens to get in touch with their innermost passions, whether it be art, music, acting, or writing. If your teen needs a safe and professional treatment program, contact Clearfork Academy today by calling us at (888) 966-8604