How Blue Ridge Wilderness Helps Teens Break Free from Social Media and Tech Addiction

Technology has become an indispensable part of life for people of all ages. While it offers immense advantages and convenience, excessive reliance on smart devices can lead to detrimental outcomes, such as technology addiction, compulsive internet browsing, and gaming fixation.

Adolescents are especially highly susceptible to the allure of screens, social media apps, video games, and online activities. Chronic overconsumption of these addictive platforms results in compromised social skills, academic performance, and overall well-being. A 2023 advisory issued by the Surgeon General exposed correlations between social media use and suicidal ideation, explaining that 95% of adolescents ages 13–17 use social media, with more than a third saying they use social media ‘almost constantly.’ Recent findings have also drawn attention to the relationship between social media addiction and suicidal ideation in teens (Pourmand et. al, 2019).

Acknowledging concerning trends in adolescent technology addiction, Blue Ridge Therapeutic Wilderness is committed to providing clinically sophisticated, evidence-based and individualized programming for teens grappling with low self esteem, poor body image, depression, suicidal ideation, anxiety and other issues perpetuated by social media and internet addiction. By facilitating a strengths-focused path towards emotional regulation and resilience in a wilderness setting, our program empowers students to break free from obsessive technology usage and rediscover the possibilities of real-time interconnectivity. This blog will explain the distinctive, empirical and pragmatic approaches Blue Ridge offers to combat technology addiction and excessive screen time in young people.


1. Spending Time in Nature

A recent survey showed that teenagers spend an average of 3.5 hours a day on social media (Miech et. al, 2022). Among the other harms that prolonged screen time may pose to developing minds, research shows that children and adolescents who spend over 3 hours on social media a day face twice the risk of mental health problems such as symptoms of depression and anxiety (Rhiem et. al, 2019). Understanding the urgent need for intervention regarding adolescents and social media, Blue Ridge embraces the therapeutic potential of nature as a cornerstone of our wilderness therapy model.

By removing smartphones and mobile devices from the equation, we create a space where students can fully immerse themselves in an environment free from distractions. Our field area offers a serene and captivating backdrop, a stark contrast to the fast-paced, digital world they're accustomed to. Here, they can slow down and learn to navigate their emotions without relying on screen time to numb out.

Mindful time spent in the wilderness facilitates a restoration of balance for young people, fostering a profound connection with nature and greater self-awareness (Argyriatis et al, 2024). Freed from the constant barrage of screen media and digital interruptions, students can engage in self-reflection, connect with peers in genuine face-to-face interactions, and reassess their priorities.


2. Skill-building and Outdoor Adventures

Our wilderness program offers a diverse range of therapeutic outdoor activities aimed at nurturing our students' growth and well-being. From hiking and backpacking to camping and nature exploration, along with team-building exercises, these activities serve as catalysts for developing new skills, enhancing resilience, and fostering healthy relationships.

Through these outdoor pursuits, participants not only rediscover the pleasure of physical movement but also gain invaluable insights into cooperation, problem-solving, and personal development. These experiences provide a stark contrast to the isolated and sedentary lifestyle often linked with technology addiction, offering a pathway towards holistic healing and growth.


3. Developing Self-Efficacy and Resilience

Research continues to show that time spent in nature fosters psychological and physiological benefits in struggling children (Kil et. al, 2023), and that wilderness therapy interventions have positive impacts on indicators of mental wellbeing like self-efficacy, social interaction, school attendance (Overbey et. al, 2023).

In addition to developing coping skills and spending time in nature, students in our program engage in hands-on learning, mastering essential life skills like cooking over a campfire, navigating trails, carving, fire-making and creative exploration. This integrative programming has shown to help students cultivate social adaptability and positive self-concept while simultaneously reducing mental health symptoms in adolescents with emotional, behavioral, and substance use problems (Bettman et. al, 2013).

Newfound skills instill a sense of achievement, bolstering self-assurance and efficacy. As students gain confidence, their dependence on external stimuli diminishes, leading to genuine fulfillment and self-expression through tangible accomplishments. The sincere effort students employ, combined with the skills they gain, translate in lasting ways as they transition back to their homes and communities.

wilderness therapy trail carolina

4. Treating the whole individual

At Blue Ridge, students benefit from personalized treatment plans and holistic therapeutic care provided by a dedicated team of wilderness experts, licensed clinicians, and mental health professionals. Through individual and group therapy sessions, participants delve into the root causes of their technology addictions which are often born from deeper patterns of isolation, anxiety, depression and dependency. With guidance from their primary therapist and treatment team, they confront emotional hurdles and cultivate healthier coping strategies.

Early clinical and psychiatric assessments at Blue Ridge aid in comprehensive understanding of what might be driving students to isolate or overuse technology, allowing for personalized treatment plans, targeted family support resources and specific objectives for discharge planning.


5. Discovering Community and Belonging

At Blue Ridge, we understand that a sense of belonging is a fundamental human need, and that relationships with family, peers, and community play a crucial role in shaping adolescents’ development (Blum, 2022). Our students progress through our program in peer groups organized by age and gender, a cornerstone of our therapeutic approach that fosters a nurturing community. Within the milieu, students find a supportive environment where they can openly share experiences, offer encouragement, and glean insights from one another.

This strong sense of community serves as a powerful antidote to the isolation often perpetuated by excessive technology use. Moreover, it cultivates essential interpersonal communication and trust skills vital for healthy social interactions and personal growth.

family therapy blue ridge wilderness

Finding lasting solutions for adolescent and young adult social media addiction at Blue Ridge Therapeutic Wilderness

If your child is grappling with technology overuse, wilderness therapy could be the right solution for your family.

At Blue Ridge, we provide a refreshing and practical approach to addressing technology addiction in today's screen-dominated era. By offering a spectrum of outdoor therapeutic activities alongside sophisticated clinical support, Blue Ridge Wilderness aids young individuals aged 12 to 28 and their families in navigating emotional and behavioral challenges such as depression, anxiety, defiance, and trauma. In our program, they reconnect with themselves, cultivate vital life skills, and rediscover a vibrant life beyond the confines of social media and technology.

Equip your child with the tools they need to lead balanced lives in one of our therapeutic wilderness programs. For further details about our program, please call our admissions line at 888-914-1050 or reach out to us on our website today.


Argyriadis, A., Kopanakis, E., Koutras, P., Louvaris, K., Mammi, A. Z., Psychogiou, M., Katsarou, D., Vieira, I., Drakopoulou, O., & Argyriadii, A. (2024). The Impact of Outdoor in Nature Mindfulness on the Mental Well-being of Children and Adolescents. A Mental Health and Cross-cultural Approach. Materia socio-medica, 36(1), 73–76. https://doi.org/10.5455/msm.2024.36.73-76

Bettmann, J. E., Russell, K. C., & Parry, K. J. (2012). How Substance Abuse Recovery Skills, Readiness to Change and Symptom Reduction Impact Change Processes in Wilderness Therapy Participants. Journal of Child and Family Studies, 22(8), 1039–1050. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10826-012-9665-2

Blum, R. W., Lai, J., Martinez, M., & Jessee, C. (2022). Adolescent connectedness: cornerstone for health and wellbeing. BMJ (Clinical research ed.), 379, e069213. https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj-2021-069213

Kil, N., Kim, J. G., Thornton, E., Jeranek, A. (2023). Psychological and Physiological Health Benefits of a Structured Forest Therapy Program for Children and Adolescents with Mental Health Disorders. International Journal of Mental Health Promotion, 25(10), 1117–1125. https://doi.org/10.32604/ijmhp.2023.022981

Miech, Richard A., Johnston, Lloyd D., Bachman, Jerald G., O’Malley, Patrick M., Schulenberg, John E., and Patrick, Megan E. Monitoring the Future: A Continuing Study of American Youth (8th- and 10th-Grade Surveys), 2021. Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research [distributor], 2022-10-31. https://doi.org/10.3886/ICPSR38502.v1

Office of the Surgeon General (OSG). (2023). Social Media and Youth Mental Health: The U.S. Surgeon General’s Advisory. US Department of Health and Human Services. https://www.hhs.gov/sites/default/files/sg-youth-mental-health-social-media-advisory.pdf

Overbey, T. A., Diekmann, F., Lekies, K. S., (2023). Nature-based interventions for vulnerable youth: a scoping review. International Journal of Environmental Health Research, 33(1), 15-53. https://doi.org/10.1080/09603123.2021.1998390

Pourmand, A., Roberson, J., Caggiula, A., Monsalve, N., Rahimi, M., & Torres-Llenza, V. (2019). Social Media and Suicide: A Review of Technology-Based Epidemiology and Risk Assessment. Telemedicine journal and e-health : the official journal of the American Telemedicine Association, 25(10), 880–888. https://doi.org/10.1089/tmj.2018.0203