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teen tech addiction

A Silent Distraction: Cell Phone Addiction in Teens

A Silent Distraction: Cell Phone Addiction in Teens 0 0 se_admin

Cell phones have become a staple in American households. While their beginning was humbler with only eleven million users during the 1990s, today’s numbers show that almost 2.5 billion people own a cell phone

These small devices have become capable of providing endless information and have vast capabilities but provide any form of entertainment at the push of a button. These features are especially enticing to younger adults, and with social platforms like Instagram and Tik-Tok, trying to put it down has become increasingly harder.

In fact, studies have shown that 50% of teens feel addicted to their phones for socializing or online games.

What Happens to an Adolescent When Overstimulated by Their Smartphones

Smartphone addiction runs parallel to internet addiction, both are considered impulse-control addictions. Over time, negative behaviors start surfacing and lack of real-life emotions take a back seat. Examples include the following:

  • Desensitizes their emotions – By consistently observing the behaviors of online interactions, an adolescent can become out of touch with their own passions or concerns by focusing solely on the stimulation of their phones.
  • Increased likelihood to misuse adult habits – Adolescents are easily tempted to participate in drinking by other peers or social online pressures.
  • Lack of healthy diet – Though the concept of the smartphone was to bring the freedom to take it anywhere, adolescents find that they cannot put down the phone to eat a proper meal for fear they may lose out on the latest information. To subsidize these hunger pains, fast food is often on the table, leading to an unbalanced diet.
  • Social loneliness – Though it may sound strange that a person could feel lonely when constantly spending time on their phones, for adolescents, these emotions are easily felt and experienced. In fact, loneliness can be most prevalent during these formative years than any other time of their life, with 70% reporting social isolation.

How to Help Your Teenager Live a More Balanced Tech Life

While it might not be an easy task to lay down ground rules around their screen time, sticking to these boundaries will not only benefit your adolescent but the mental health of the family as a unit:

  • Bedtime is a phone-free zone – Common Sense Media reported that almost 29% of teens sleep with smartphones or tablets in their beds. By allowing this behavior, adolescents are more prone to sleep less soundly and often feel the need to check their phones throughout the night. Instead, set a period to put the phones away before bed, preferably an hour before to assure a smoother mental transition when getting tired.
  • One device at a time – Smart devices are not limited to the phone in today’s tech world. From smartwatches to laptops, the internet is readily available at any time. While it is often necessary to use multiple devices when completing homework or participating in online courses, the need is limited when the job is done. Instead, allow your adolescent to choose one screen to engage with during their downtime. This keeps them more focused on the information they are seeking and less chance of being overexposed to multiple platforms.
  • Take back family meals – Recent reports show that only about 30% of families regularly eat dinner together at home. With endless busy work and school schedules, families find that sitting down to a family dinner is not on their radar. This limits the quality in-person conversations that adolescents need to express their thoughts and feelings about the day, much like an adult. Instead, if dinner is not possible, share a small meal like a snack with your teen so they feel recognized and included in their family dynamic.
  • Limiting online platforms – Social platforms began appearing in the early 2000s. Companies like Facebook and Instagram have grabbed the attention of millions of young users. Recent studies have found that 75% of adolescents report having at least one social media profile, with 51% reporting daily use. Instead, encourage teens to only check their profiles twice a day. This gives back the time they need to learn from real-life experiences and interactions.
  • Phone-free day – Once a week have your adolescent put away the phone for the day. Engage them in offline activities such as gardening or sports to offset the stimulation they are looking for. This encourages them to exercise and interact with their community and peers in a healthy setting. Over time, they will come to appreciate the internet break and are more eager to participate in more positive outlets.
  • Turn off the notifications – Today’s smartphones have a wide range of music, sound bites, and vibration modes to alert the user to current information. For an adolescent, this can mean multiple notifications per day. Instead, have your teen turn off these sounds so they are not triggered to constantly check their phones. This allows them to stay more focused on the task at hand.
  • Be the example they need – Adults can be just as guilty as an adolescent when it comes to using their phone for pleasure. In fact, recent studies have found that smartphone usage suggests that an average user spends almost three hours per day on their mobile device. Furthermore, over 50% claim to check their devices a few times per hour. Adolescents are consistently looking to others to verify their habits. If you are just as entranced with the phone, imagine what your teen believes. Instead, put down the phone when having in-person conversations and limit use in the evening hours when adolescents need more positive attention.

How Solstice East Can Help Your Teenager Today

Solstice East is a residential treatment center caring for adolescents ages 14-18. Our 25-acre campus, nestled in the Blue Ridge Mountains just outside of Asheville, NC, offers on-site equine therapy, an accredited academic schedule, plus world-class therapeutic programming to treat a wide range of trauma and mental disorders. Our clients receive a unique combination of therapeutic techniques stemming from both traditional and holistic mental health treatments. We strive to empower our students with the ability to believe in themselves by providing the tools, support, and motivation necessary to instill these beliefs for life.

The Solstice mission is to support adolescents and their families in developing excellence in relationships, influence, character, and health throughout their life journeys. Through relationship-based programming, we help students restore and rebuild healthy, trusting relationships with their families, peers, teachers, and staff.

We are a privately owned residential treatment center incorporating innovative therapeutic techniques to help our clients address a wide range of emotional and behavioral issues. At Solstice East, your teen will be supported by a passionate team of therapeutic experts who have extensive training and experience working with trauma, loss, anxiety, addiction, and unhealthy behaviors. We are a proven leader in successfully treating adolescent students struggling with a variety of challenges.

For more information, please call us today at 828-484-9946.

ptsd and substance use

Seeking Safety for PTSD and Substance Use

Seeking Safety for PTSD and Substance Use 2608 2806 se_admin

Teens who have experienced trauma are more likely to turn to substance use to cope with symptoms of PTSD. Traumatic experiences contribute to a hypervigilant view of the world where teens struggle with emotional pain, trusting others, and feeling a sense of belonging and security. Substance use may numb the pain, but is not an effective way of addressing traumatic experiences. While teens may struggle with verbally re-processing traumatic events, therapeutic approaches, like Seeking Safety, helps teens develop healthier coping skills to manage impulsive behaviors related to PTSD and substance use.  

Understanding Process Addictions 

Addiction is a disease of disconnect that makes teens feel isolated from their families and the world around them. Teens have to relearn what a healthy relationship looks like, beginning with the support of mentors and their peers struggling with similar issues.

Many teens minimize the impact of their behavior as “normal teen things” or romanticize their lifestyle when they begin to look at their unhealthy behaviors. When they stop relying on substances or other addictive behaviors, they may believe that their problems have been resolved.

Most process addictions,  like self-harm, disordered eating, unhealthy relationships, and technology addiction, are developed as ways to cope with traumatic stress and serve a purpose in teen’s lives, which explains how they become attached to these behaviors. When teens begin to recognize how their unhealthy behaviors were their way of coping with situations and meeting certain needs, they feel empowered to look for alternative ways of reducing the void they feel, rather than just filling it. They have to detach from their impulsive behaviors before they can attach to the solutions treatment offers.”

PTSD and Substance Use: Using A Process Addiction Model 

While other residential treatment centers for teens who struggle with substance use follow a model focused on behavioral change, our trauma-informed approach for teens who struggle with substance use acknowledges that addictive behaviors result from underlying emotional issues and learning processes. Using substances is just one symptom of addiction. When you take substances away, there are so many other underlying issues that reinforce unhealthy coping mechanisms. This is why addiction therapy is just one element of our program

Solstice East uses a Seeking Safety model, Dialectical Behavioral Therapy, motivational interviewing, and group therapy to help educate teens about the impact of process addictions, encourage open discussions about attachment issues and impulsive behaviors. As the needs of young girls are different from those of adults and one addictive behavior can easily be replaced by new addictions, we focus on addressing underlying issues, not just problem behaviors.

Rather than focusing on the consequences of self-medicating negative emotions, Seeking Safety helps teens identify risky situations, develop healthier relationships, use positive coping mechanisms, and learn how to ask for help, which empowers them to make different choices.

Goals of Seeking Safety:


  • Setting boundaries in relationships includes learning how to communicate your needs, understanding consent, and determining levels of intimacy with people in their lives. This involves learning how to say no and how to stand up for oneself.
  • Healing from Anger. Many teens who have experienced trauma have held on to a lot of anger and resentment or blamed themselves for their experiences. A lot of them learned from people in their lives that it was normal to turn to particular coping mechanisms, even if they did not serve them in the long-run. 
  • Showing more compassion towards themselves and others. Regardless of how teens chose to cope with their distress in the past, this model acknowledges that their brain was doing the best it could to keep them safe from the overwhelming pain they experienced. This helps teens let go of self-judgment and validate their experience. 
  • Grounding refers to focusing on sensations, surroundings, and positive memories to help teens when they feel overwhelmed. Traumatic memories can trigger dissociation that takes people away from the present moment and induces cravings to turn to addictive behaviors to cope. Grounding re-establishes a sense of safety.


Solstice East Can Help 

Solstice East is a residential treatment center for young women ages 14-18 struggling with process addictions, substance use, and trauma. This program helps young women detach from unhealthy coping mechanisms by integrating healthy habits into their lives. Students learn to cope with emotions, communicate effectively, form healthy relationships, and build confidence. Their holistic approach acknowledges that addiction is only one piece of the puzzle to be addressed in order to help girls succeed in multiple areas of their lives. 

For more information about addiction programming at Solstice East, call (855) 672-7058.

smartphone addiction

Smartphone Addiction: The Issue We Need to Be Discussing

Smartphone Addiction: The Issue We Need to Be Discussing 1280 853 se_admin

For the sake of our children, we need to talk about smartphones. There’s one in practically every teen’s pocket. According to surveys, around 75 percent of teens own or have access to a smartphone. So, why is this a big deal? Smartphone addiction.

I know it sounds ridiculous–how could you possibly become addicted to a technological device? Well, it’s not so much the device than what it does. It gives us a level of connectivity and media exposure that’s unprecedented. While this obviously has many benefits, the damages are becoming clearer each day.

Smartphones have changed the way teens communicate with not just their peers, but the world. They now have access to hordes of unfiltered information and many parents let their teens use it without any supervision or constraints. Therein lies the problem.   

Unfettered access is leading to serious issues

During adolescence, we shape our self-identity. It’s one of the most essential and most vulnerable moments of our lives. What we form in adolescence is difficult to completely change in adulthood–and smartphones may be affecting this process negatively.

Young girls especially struggle with it. For example, a teen girl may feel compelled to constantly scroll through her Instagram feed, comparing herself to her peers or celebrities. Not only should she not compare herself, but the content she compares herself to is doctored.

Social media provides a platform to post your “perfect” self and it often becomes unhealthy. The “perfect” life with a “perfect” body, “perfect” house, and “perfect” family simply does not exist. Yet young girls are becoming obsessed with it.

They become entranced with what they’re lacking and where, leading to low self-esteem and self-worth. A smartphone addiction can easily be born out of this type of compulsion. Many parents just allow complete access without any rules around it–this is a mistake. 

Is smartphone addiction a real threat?

Absolutely. Addiction comes in many forms–drugs aren’t the only thing you can become addicted to. You can become addicted to behaviors; smartphone addiction is in this category.

Studies have linked it to the dopamine release we get when someone “likes” a photo or shares something we posted. This release is similar to when gamblers win money–and gambling can most certainly be an addiction.

Some researchers even believe that the recent spike in depression among youth and smartphone use are related. Depression rates have increased by 60 percent in young people in 6 years–that’s an almost unmatched increase.

Smartphone use obviously poses a risk, though we may not hold all the answers to why and how. Move forward with caution. If you’re struggling with your daughter’s tech use, put some usage rules in motion. Doing nothing is what will lead to serious problems.

Solstice East is here to help your daughter

Solstice East is a residential treatment center for girls, ages 14 to 18. We understand the specific needs of girls, which is why our program is centered solely on them. Our students struggle with anxiety, depression, smartphone addiction, trauma, ADHD, and other emotional or behavioral problems.

We have a strong emphasis on family therapy, nutrition, physical fitness. We also offer a supportive staff, cutting-edge academics, addiction therapy, equine therapy, and psychiatric services. At Solstice, we help set the stage for the infusion of light into the previously darkened lives of the families we serve.

For more information about how we treat smartphone addiction at Solstice East, please contact us at 828-484-9946.

7 Ways to Combat a Phone Obsession in Parents & Teens

7 Ways to Combat a Phone Obsession in Parents & Teens 150 150 se_admin

The era of technology hasn’t ended yet; New gadgets, toys, and devices continue to integrate themselves into our daily lives. But, like with most new thing, we’ve begun seeing the negative consequences attached to certain technologies, primarily phones. Anything taken or used excessively can be harmful, which is why a phone obsession isn’t healthy.

You mainly hear about young people being plagued with phone obsessions, but, according to Common Sense Media’s surveys, this isn’t necessarily true. Around 27 percent of parents think they may have a phone obsession and 41 percent of teens feel that their parents don’t pay enough attention to them because of they’re on their phones. With these numbers, it seems like children and their parents both could use some tips on how to curb a phone obsession. Psychology Today recently wrote an article outlining ways to do just that.

7 ways to combat a phone obsession

  1. Talk about it with your family. If you think you or any member of the family is spending too much time staring at their phone, maybe it’s time to call a family meeting. Discuss the issues with a phone obsession openly and calmly, attacking one member of the family will just cause conflict. Each member of the family should reflect on their phone use and whether they believe it’s problematic.
  2. Recognize it. When you’re in denial, there’s always a little voice in the back of your head speaking a secret truth: “You really do prioritize your phone over your family time.” Recognizing the voice is the first step to being able to take action.
  3. Set up rules for yourself. For example, you could tell yourself that when you go to your daughter’s ballet class, you’ll only use your phone to take a photo–nothing else. Setting up small rules for yourself helps you create boundaries and forms a certain amount of mindfulness surrounding how to control your phone obsession.
  4. Create times for technology. Figure out what your balance is specifically for you–everyone is different. Maybe one hour on Facebook at a time when the family is busy is enough for you, but not for your teen. Finding out the balance is key, because a certain amount can feed your phone obsession or control it.
  5. Find the root of the phone obsession. Many people turn to their phones when they’re bored, in an uncomfortable situation, or need a distraction–but this often removes us from what’s happening in the moment, whether that’s your daughter’s soccer game or son’s swimming lessons. By bringing mindful awareness to these actions, we can combat them more easily.
  6. Form technology free zones. Now don’t go crazy with this, consult your family before you form any boundaries and make sure you all agree on where they would be the most productive and effective. A great one to begin with is the dining table. Creating a technology free zone during meals creates a great time for everyone to catch up and enjoy food.
  7. Have activities that don’t include technology. These can be individual and family activities. An example of an individual activity would be daily meditation or a morning stroll. An example of a family activity would be going to the park to play ultimate frisbee or going to the movies. These are fun activities that keep your mind off of your phone.

Solstice East can help

Solstice East is a residential treatment center for girls, ages 14 to 18, grappling with depression, anxiety, phone obsession, and other emotional or behavioral problems. We strive to help our girls develop healthy habits for teens and lead themselves back onto a path of success and happiness.

For more information about how Solstice East treats phone obsessions, please call 828-484-9946.

A Craving for ‘Likes’ Can Lead to Social Media Addiction

A Craving for ‘Likes’ Can Lead to Social Media Addiction 150 150 se_admin

Certain reward centers in your brain go off when you win money or eat chocolate–making you want to do it again. This is one of the reasons people suffer from binge eating or an addiction to gambling. According to a new study by the University of California, these same parts of the brain light up when teens get a large number of “likes” on their photos. This helps explain the phenomena of social media addiction. Relatively new, not much is known about the causes of social media addiction or its effects–but more is coming to light because of studies like this one.

What is social media addiction?

Social media addiction–though not officially classified–is a compulsive need to be on social media, even in the face of harm. This means your daughter feels that she need to check social media or she gets anxious, has mood swings, and shows other withdrawal symptoms. It also means she’s at risk of checking social media while driving, which is just as bad as drunk driving. This not only risks her life, but it shows a dangerous attachment to social media that can only be described as a social media addiction or obsession.

Study also shows how much friends can influence a teen

In the study, it was shown that if a teen saw a photo on Instagram–a social media platform–had a lot of likes or was liked by a friend, they would like it. Now if teens saw the exact photo, but with less likes or no likes from friends, they would be dramatically less likely to like it. This shows how friends have the power to influence a teen’s decisions and preferences.

Now if her friends have that power just through social media, it begs the question: how much influence do they have in real life? If there’s a photo of someone smoking a cigarette and it happens to have a ton of likes, would this influence your daughter’s view of the danger of cigarettes? More research has to be done in these areas in order to be clear.

Solstice East can help

Solstice East is a residential treatment center for girls, ages 14 to 18, grappling with teen depression, anxiety, trauma, and other emotional or behavioral issues. We strive to help our girls lead themselves back onto a path of health and happiness.

For more information about how Solstice East handles social media addiction, please call 828-484-9946!

What is your teen doing online? The dangers of teen social media use

What is your teen doing online? The dangers of teen social media use 150 150 se_admin

What’s your teen doing at this very second? Chances are the answer is either at school, on social media, or both simultaneously. Nowadays, teens communicate with their friends pretty much exclusively through social media and texting. According to a report by Common Sense Media, teens spend about nine hours a day using media for their enjoyment. Teen social media use is off the charts. As a parent, how are you going to protect your teen from the dangers of social media? What dangers are you protecting your teen from?

The dangers of teen social media use

Teens social media use isn’t necessarily a bad thing. After all, it’s the way teens communicate with each other. On some forms of social media, teens form supportive communities where they can freely express their ideas and start a conversation. However, not all of teen social media use is so well intentioned. Sometimes teen social media use leads to exposure to cyberbullying and sharing more of themselves than they should. Here are some things to look out for while your teen is surfing the web:

  1. What’s on the web, stays there forever: If your teen has gone to a party and she takes a picture of herself with drug or alcohol paraphernalia that ends up on social media, that picture will be traceable forever. Even if she eventually deletes the photo, internet archives will allow future employers to see that photo long afterwards.
  2. Be wary of strangers online: Social media makes it very easy for your teen to interact with strangers on a daily basis. Not all of these strangers are well intentioned. Your teen is well aware of the “stranger danger” idea. But you need to show them a few examples of what could happen if they give strangers too much information about themselves (stalking, stealing financial info, etc.)
  3. Cyberbullying: This is a major issue affecting millions of teens across the world. Cyberbullying is so dangerous because it can happen anywhere. It follows your teen wherever they go, hanging over their head like a shadow. If your teen tries to hide what they are doing on the computer or has recently been behaving strangely (sad for no apparent reason, irritable, etc.) they may be experiencing cyberbullying.
  4. Damaging to self esteem: On social media, your teen is constantly comparing herself to her peers. These comparisons can damage your teen’s self confidence and self esteem.

Solstice East can help

Teen social media use has its positive aspects and its dangers. If your teen daughter is struggling with emotional and/or behavioral difficulties such as depression, anxiety, and defiance, consider Solstice East. Solstice East is a residential treatment center for teen girls ages 14-18 that can help your teen find success.

For more information about Solstice East, please call (855) 672-7058.