Treatment Programs For Teen Technology Addiction/Overuse
For parents searching for treatment programs that can help with teen technology overuse and addiction, Solstice West may be able to help.
Social media and technology are omnipresent in today’s society. It is no wonder that teens are struggling with how to appropriately use and engage with technology of all sorts. Social media can have people of all ages questioning their appearance and self worth, and teenagers are especially susceptible to wanting to fit in. Whether the use is excessive (to the point of isolating and racking up charges) or dangerous (sexting or bullying), it’s important to know that help is available.
Most of our students have found themselves engaging with technology in unhealthy ways at some point, so these behaviors are something we feel very comfortable working with.
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.
How Does Solstice RTC Help Teens Struggling with Technology Addiction?
At Solstice West, we allow for a break from their previously technology-filled world. Initially, your teen will not have access to any social media or non-academic technologies, and what she does have access to will be approved and monitored by a staff member. This is to make sure she can begin to re-engage in the present world around her. We provide specific therapeutic supports for the misuse of technology, including: social media group, addictions group, family therapy, and peer support groups.
These pieces, along with our strong academic program, adventure therapy, and positive peer culture will help her appreciate being in the here and now, and the associated healthy relationships. Her self-esteem, self-confidence, and social skills will blossom. The goal will be for her to maintain this healthy, independent self-worth while gradually re-introducing approved social media and technology so that she can learn and practice how to effectively balance her technology use while she is still at Solstice West.
What are the causes of technology addiction in teens?
Excessive or inappropriate use of technology is typically a symptom of people trying to compensate for issues in their offline lives. For example, a teen with low self-esteem might try to post extremely edited or suggestive photos in an attempt to bolster feelings for herself by the validation of others. Or an anxiety-ridden high school might make posts that imply “everything is great” when in reality, she is struggling with her academic and extracurricular activities.
Studies have linked what is called “sensation-seeking” to excessive internet use. Sensation-seeking, also called excitement-seeking, is the tendency to pursue excitement and sensory pleasure and excitement. This coupled with loneliness or existing emotional issues (including depression, anxiety, or low self-esteem) creates a vulnerable situation where teens may turn to the internet as a coping skill.
Risk factors for excessive or inappropriate technology use include:
Even without these risk factors, teens can fall into the habit of using technology inappropriately because of a desire to fit in or be accepted. Regardless of what started or caused your teen’s misuse of social media, there is support to help address the concerns you have.
What are the Symptoms of Technology Overuse in Teens?
The over- or misuse of social media and/or technology can be defined as obsessive and frequent technology use increasingly occurring despite negative consequences to the user of the technology. Though not official in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM–5), some professionals have begun to term these behaviors “Internet Addiction” or “Technology Addiction”. Regardless of what it is called, here are some signs and symptoms to look out for:
- Excessive texting (hyper texting), defined as over 120 texts per day
- Multiple accounts on the same platform
- Suggestive or compromising photos of self or others
- Isolation/No Sense of Time
- Using technology as a coping skill (for example, posting a picture to get likes when you are feeling sad)
- Excessive spending (on apps, online shopping, etc.)
- Lying about technology/social media use
- Mood swings or becoming angry when technology/social media use is limited
It’s also worth noting that your teen may see her overuse or misuse of technology as a positive activity, keeping her out of more “dangerous” or risk-oriented alternatives (i.e., “it’s just Instagram, I’m not smoking weed”). Her defensiveness is may also be a sign that there are bigger issues surrounding the role technology is playing in her life.
Treatments For Technology Addiction
Many times, parents hope that excessive internet use will just be a phase, but some form of intervention is typically needed. Individual therapy as well as behavior changes are crucial to the treatment for the overuse of technology. Specifically, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) has been recommended to help establish ways to cut down on technology use while also creating new coping skills. Recreation and adventure therapies, as well as mindfulness, have all been shown helpful in treatment, because these activities help to create new neural pathways to strengthen associations with being present and positive memories.
Part of what makes technology and social media use so appealing is the instant social network it creates. It is important to replace this with real, in person social support. Having a program with a built in positive peer culture will be helpful in showing your teen she is capable in creating and maintain relationships outside of her online persona.
Why Choose Solstice West Residential Treatment Program?
Solstice West provides a truly relationship-based program aimed at whole-person care. Your daughter is more than her diagnosis and deserves to be in a compassionate, supportive environment that offers a strengths-based approach to care. By focusing on building healthy, trusting relationships, we begin to help her experientially heal unhealthy past relationships. We can help our students understand and practice trust, while building their self-worth and ability to self-regulate.
By developing trusting relationships, students feel safe and comfortable exploring underlying core beliefs related to their technology addiction. This deep self-work is sometimes difficult, and students need to work with people they trust in order to access these areas of themselves.
Therapeutic Programming for Teens Struggling with Technology Addiction
At Solstice West, we provide exceptional therapeutic programming for teens dealing with technology addiction. We utilize a wide range of modalities in order to find the right fit for each student, and the modalities we offer are evidence based, meaning we strive to offer the highest level of quality and effectiveness when it comes to the types of therapy and interventions we use.
Our relationship-based approach is at the foundation of all treatment decisions when working with teens. Developing healthy and trusting relationships with the clinical team is crucial, and this starts by having talented clinicians that embody our relationship-based approach. Our therapists are not only highly skilled, trained, and educated, but also kind, compassionate individuals that are easy to connect with.
Accredited Academic Program Incorporates Mindful Technology Use
Nowadays, technology is an integral part of the classroom experience, which can make it difficult for students to set boundaries around personal technology use. Completing homework online or taking notes on a laptop blurs with scrolling through social media, especially if teachers and parents don’t have the time to monitor screens. Relying on Google and other websites as study tools and cheat sheets can take away from authentic learning.
As one of the leading residential treatment centers with an accredited academic program, Solstice West has designed our academic approach to meet students where they are at and to help them develop an individualized academic plan with specific, measurable goals in order to support their learning and therapeutic process. Class sizes are purposefully kept small, with no more than 12 students per class, in order to allow more individual attention and hands-on learning. Our academic program revolves around helping students develop foundational study skills offline and using technology mindfully.
Technology is incorporated into the classroom, with interactive teacher technology and school laptops available for certain assignments. Students also have the opportunity to take certain elective classes that we do not offer online. Solstice RTC is committed to providing 21st century technology while offering creative solutions for those struggling with technology use.