Reducing Internet Usage at Our Therapeutic Boarding School

Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it.

~Proverbs 22:6

It’s easy to let kids spend all of their time on the internet, browsing social media, snapchatting with friends and complete strangers. The not-so-easy part is limiting that usage. At Greenbrier Academy boarding school for girls, we want the girls to be able to keep up with technology during their stay. However, we also want to protect them from the dangers of using too much internet. That’s why we set boundaries by limiting the use of computers and monitoring their use.

We’ve found that this results in several benefits, including:

Improved Sleeping Patterns

At Greenbrier, many of our girls arrive with sleep problems resulting from anxiety, stress, depression or simply poor sleep hygiene. Studies have shown that excessive screen time, including cell phones, computers and televisions, can disrupt sleep patterns. When we remove these devices from the situation, sleep improves.

More Time for Healthier Activities

When we reduce the number of hours spent on the computer and eliminate cell phone use, our students turn to other activities for entertainment and enjoyment. This lets them embrace things like team sports, clubs, and even adventures they used to read about online, but have never tried, such as fishing, hiking, mountain biking and rock climbing. We make an effort to get them outdoors and involved in these types of healthy activities that add meaning to their lives.

Increased Focus on Academics

Have you ever heard your teen say, “Why do I need to study? I can just Google it.” It’s true that we’re living in a time when information is just a few clicks away, but that doesn’t mean our education should be forgotten. We when limit internet usage, we help the troubled teens at our boarding school increase their focus on academics. They no longer rely on the internet to tell them everything. They work for the answers while also building relationships with other students and their teachers.

Reduced Anxiety

Many kids today spend every waking available hour online. Some even wake up in the middle of the night to answer texts or reply to Facebook messages. Most studies show that the average teen spends as little as seven hours a day online. This results in sensory overload, which leads to symptoms like:

  • Inability to pay attention
  • Moodiness
  • Impulsivity
  • Addiction to the internet

While addiction may be a frightening term to many parents, it can happen- and does. And when it does, it affects both the gray and white matter in the brain. This can lead to increased anxiety, violent behavior and difficulty establishing personal relationships.

Removing or reducing screen time helps prevent the damage done to the brain, especially for kids between the ages of 13 and 20. It can also help reduce the symptoms associated with it, including anxiety.

While reducing screen time at Greenbrier may initially seem old-fashioned to some parents, it’s an important step we take to help our students begin living their best lives. By limiting the amount of time they spend on computers, they experience better sleep, reduced stress and get to spend time learning what their passion is in life.