Adventure activities help students develop self-efficacy, grit, purpose, and drive. In addition, our program offers individual and group therapy to heal the root of mental health struggles such as depression and anxiety.

How Outdoor Adventure Therapy Can Combat The Effects of Screen Time

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You’re not alone if you are parenting a young adult and are confused about why your child is failing to thrive. In a world that offers access to all the knowledge, entertainment, and opportunity (all at the click of a button, no waiting required), young adults should feel energized, hopeful, and even excited about the future. Instead, kids are gun-shy about the future, have fewer life skills, and have lower mental health than any prior generation. 

Many respected mental health professionals are pointing a finger at screen time use. Teenagers 15-18 have an average screen time of 7.5 hours, up roughly 2 hours since 2015. That’s roughly 42% of a teen’s waking hours!

While it has been often debated how screen time is impacting our children’s mental health, one thing is certain: over the last decade, we’ve seen a general decline in teen and young adult mental health. And if that’s not sobering enough, recent studies show that teens and young adults with high screen time use (be it cell phones, computers, electronic devices, electronic games, or TV) often lead to the following mental health struggles:

  • Show less curiosity
  • Exhibit less self-control and emotional stability
  • Are twice as likely to experience anxiety or depression
  • Are at risk for obesity and poor eating habits

As a parent, you understand how damaging excessive technology use can be–you’re probably watching it happen right before your eyes. We are too, and that’s why we’re passionate about finding a practical and lasting way to limit screen time and forge a healthy relationship with technology.

Increased Screen Time’s Impact

In a recent book called, “The Anxious Generation: How the Great Rewiring of Childhood Is Causing an Epidemic of Mental Illness,” Social Psychologist Jonathan Haidt explains what so many parents have been confused by for the last decade: Why are kids today more anxious, depressed, risk-averse, lonelier, and less social than ever before. 

Why the change?

Haidt argues that the mass migration of childhood “from the real world to the virtual world has completely changed what it means to be a kid. By replacing free and independent play and quality time with friends with the isolation of screens and phones.”

What resulted from this mass migration, Haidt argues, is a childhood deeply disconnected from the physical world–a type of isolation that is “incompatible with healthy human development.”

DISCOVER: Screen Time, Education, And Cannabis Use In Young People

Obviously, we live in an increasingly digital world, and screens are a part of everyone’s lives. However, there is always too much of a good thing, and if your child spends more than half of his waking hours on screens, it could impact his social, physical, and emotional well-being. 

If you witness any of these signs, it might be time to set some limits on screen time or have a candid conversation with your young adult about the importance of reengaging in the physical world.

Poor sleep. Excessive blue light from screens can suppress melatonin, which is the hormone that helps regulate your sleep. Poor sleep can lead to other health issues like mental fog, an inability to focus, mood swings, and lower energy levels.

Chronic pain: Sitting in one position for long periods of time and angling your head and neck to stare at a phone, computer, or TV can cause recurring pain in your neck, back, and shoulders.

Weight gain: Screen time activities are almost always sedentary. Spending too much time sitting or lying down can lead to weight gain, which can lead to other health-related problems like diabetes, heart issues, and increased blood pressure.

Poor mental health: Watching TV, playing video games, or browsing social media might offer temporary relief from stress and anxiety in the short term, but in the long term, it’s shown to cause higher levels of anxiety and depression and lower levels of social awareness.

The need for human interaction and touch is one of our most basic, primal needs. Touch deprivation is correlated with negative health outcomes such as anxiety, depression, and immune system disorders. 

When Dr. Haidt suggests that our children are growing up in an environment that is incompatible with healthy human development, he means that the virtual world does not nurture and sustain human development like in-person relationships. As exciting and visually stimulating as it is, the virtual world is a paltry substitute for the essential interaction with people and the physical world that our children require for healthy human development.

Outdoor Adventure Therapy: A Path To Digital Detox

If you’re new to the term Outdoor Adventure Therapy, it’s a model we use to help young adults and adolescents overcome depression, anxiety, low self-esteem, lack of motivation, executive function deficits, trauma, and harmful coping mechanisms by removing digital stimuli and immersing them in nature and human-centered relationships. 

Outdoor Adventure Therapy is a holistic approach to mental health. Nature is healing, and we’ve found that this program creates lasting change as our students immerse themselves in adventure activities such as surfing, rappelling, whitewater rafting, and other adventure activities. Adventure activities help students develop self-efficacy, grit, purpose, and drive. In addition, our program offers individual and group therapy to heal the root of mental health struggles such as depression and anxiety. 

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At Pure Life Adventure, we use a hands-on, strengths-based, student-integrated clinical model through which participants quickly learn new, healthy coping strategies, behavioral and emotional regulation skills, leadership skills, and life skills that lead to future success.

Combatting Screen Time With Adventure

We are passionate about helping kids and developing a love for nature. Our mission at Pure Life is to provide therapeutic experiences that allow your child to thrive and re-engage in the world around them. Research shows that skills and coping methods learned through Adventure Therapy transfer to life beyond our program. Each novel experience has the potential to become a profound, therapeutic moment promoting lasting change.

Because we focus on connecting with nature, oftentimes, our students develop a love for nature and conscientiously seek the fulfillment that adventure activities and human-centered relationships offer, leading to less time spent immersed in digital media and social platforms. Adventure Therapy is a practical solution to reducing screen time, enhancing life skills, and improving overall well-being. 

Don’t wait to begin to address your child’s screen time and find practical ways to limit screen time. Take steps today to make lasting course corrections if your child is failing to thrive. Our Outdoor Adventure Therapy is second to none when it comes to instilling in your child the skills necessary to become who they were meant to be. 

Enroll your child today and begin the digital detox! The change won’t happen overnight; however, it’s worth the effort. Contact us today for more information about our Adventure Therapy and Gap Semester programs. We love nothing more than helping families heal through adventure and nature.

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