Summer Camp for Gaming Overuse, Technology Overuse, and Co-Occurring Issues

Summerland Camps were created to help families find balance with the technology overuse problem and co-occurring issues that plague today’s youth.  While screen time overuse is undeniably a major health concern for adolescents and teens, families treatment professionals alike know little about solutions to this epidemic.

Summer Camp Troubled YouthLeft unchecked, screen time overuse can lead to social withdraw, depression, and defiance.  Parents often report that trying to limit screen time behaviors results in anger and frustration on the part of the child and parents often have a sense of hopelessness about the child’s future and ability to succeed independently in college and beyond.

Our program was created to help young people limit their screen time activities to an appropriate amount where school, job, or socialization opportunities are not compromised.  Parents who contact us at Summerland Camps realize that without an intervention, their child’s likelihood to succeed in college and beyond is very small.

Psychological Effects of Digital Media Overuse

Below are some statistics on the psychological effects of digital media overuse.  “Digital Media” includes all types of screen-based activities including social media like Facebook and Instagram; entertainment applications including Youtube, television, or gaming activities on X-Box or PlayStation.

Psychological Effects of Digital Media Overuse

One study found a 60% increase in the likelihood of depression for “very frequent” users of social media.

77% of parents believe media violence, such as content in TV, movies, and video games contribute to a culture of violence.

80% of parents believe video game violence could affect a child’s behavior.

Psychological Effects Summary

Overuse of digital media differs by media type.  For example, adolescents and teens that spend excessive amounts of time gaming can have problems with focus and attention, problems getting to sleep, and tend to read and study less than their non-gaming peers.  Frequent users of social media are more likely to suffer from depression than less frequent users.  Excessive use of the Internet has been linked to a variety of negative psychosocial consequences. These include mental disorders such as somatization, obsessive-compulsive and other anxiety disorders, depression, and dissociation, as well as personality traits and pathology, such as introversion and psychoticism.

In order to re-set the camper’s relationship with technology and provide an effective intervention, Summerland Camps offers a comprehensive summer camp program consisting of several components.

Camp components:

  • Provide for a technology detox/reset
  • Expose campers to a range of sports and hobbies to increase non-technology interests
  • Provide focus groups to question thinking, develop insight, and count the costs of technology overuse
    • We separate groups by age then breakdown of technology use by category and motivation for use.  For example, gamers may have socialization issues we need to address, which social media users may have self-esteem issues to address in the group.  We create behavior change “buckets” and sort technology users by the motivation to overuse technology for the most appropriate help through behavior coaching.
  • Provide education groups on the effects of technology overuse considering physical, social, and psychological factors
  • Meeting with a behavior coach and groups to develop intrinsic motivation to manage technology use and create lifestyle change
  • Weekly 1:1 session with a licensed therapist to discuss their progress and any issues coming up for them while at camp including homesickness.
  • Training on how to self-monitor and use built-in systems to limit technology use with their actual preferred electronic devices when feasible
  • Continued training on how self-regulation skills can also be used for goal attainment – picking a more positive path in life, along with the more productive use of your free time is an underlying theme of the camp and part of the Summerland Camps philosophy.    
  • Family workshops to educate parents on technology overuse effects, and provision of practical information to parents on how to limit and monitor use.