I Spend A Lot of Time on My Computer and Alone

Published: May 15, 2017
Dear TeenHealthFX,

Hello. I'm 14 I feel low and need some help I spend almost all of my day on my computer either browsing the internet, playing games, or watching youtube. By the end of the day I feel like a loser and feel like my day to day life revolves around being a loser and being on the computer all day. I am told that I should do stuff other than be on the computer all day like a activity such as drawing or to do sports but I get bored of drawing or reading and get bored going outside because I think video games or browsing the web is way more fun. I can force myself to draw or play guitar for a hour but get bored and head back to the computer after a while. I can't really find anything I'm interested in and my parents won't pay for sports. I can't really socialize with my parents because they always watch tv and my little bro and sis are 4 and 6 so I can't really have a fun conversation with them. I have a hard time making friends because I have really low self esteem I was called ugly and had almost no actual friends in 7th grade . Kids are more excepting to me now because I can afford a lot of nice clothes. I still feel ugly and try to hide my face from other teens. I also think that I have mental issues I find it that I like to use video games as a crutch and play a lot of simulation games were you can customize and make your characters look amazing and give them your names. I will admit I have done some drugs but manly for enjoyment and entertainment sometimes depression. I know and chat to a lot of popular people but always feel like they look down on my and realize that sometimes they ignore me. I do have a good sense of humor though thanks if theres any advice you can do please help me.

Signed: I Spend A Lot of Time on My Computer and Alone

Dear I Spend A Lot of Time on My Computer and Alone,

It sounds to TeenHealthFX like you are dealing with some level of depression. You did specifically mention depression, but you also indicated that it is hard finding pleasure in things, you tend to isolate yourself and you have a hard time finding or sustaining interest in things outside of using your computer or playing video games. All of these are symptoms of depression. When we do not feel strong enough connections and bonds with other people, depression almost always results. When we have loving, secure relationships with others it helps us to feel happy, to venture out into the world and try new things, and take interest in things. It sounds like you are feeling disconnected from family and friends, so that could certainly be a major contributing factor to how you are feeling. Unfortunately, when people feel that way they tend to isolate themselves, which just makes the situation even worse – it becomes a cycle of isolation, loneliness and sadness.

TeenHealthFX recommends that you speak to your parents, your school nurse or a counselor at school about setting up a consultation with a reputable therapist, such as a clinical social worker or clinical psychologist. A therapist can assess whether or not you are depressed, can help identify contributing factors and can work with you on ways in which to improve your mood and feel more connected with others. Given what you described about you and your parents, it would also be helpful for your parents to be involved in your therapy so that they can learn how to best help you and be supportive of you with what you are going through right now.  

If you live in northern New Jersey and need help finding a therapist you can call the Access Center from Atlantic Behavioral Health at 888-247-1400. Outside of this area you can log onto the US Department of Health and Human Services Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration website for referrals in your area. You can also contact your insurance company to get a list of in-network mental health providers or check with your school social worker or psychologist to get a list of referrals in your area.

In addition to meeting with a therapist, there are a few healthy habits that TeenHealthFX would like you to work on. First, it is important for you limit your screen time. Excessive screen time can also contribute to feelings of sadness and loneliness, so it is important to keep tabs on how much time you are spending playing video games, on your computer, on a phone, or watching television. Think of it this way – someone who is diabetic might want to eat lots of chocolate cake, but they need to set some limits on their diet to stay healthy. Mental health issues often work in the same way. So as difficult as it might be, this will be helpful to you in the long run.

FX also recommends that you start exercising on a regular basis. Exercise definitely improves mood, and feeling more fit and healthy might also help you to feel better about yourself. Third, it is really important that you find ways of spending more time with people. If you find this hard to do on your own, then perhaps this can be a focus with your therapist. But this is going to be critical in order for you to start feeling happier and better about yourself over time. Finally, FX would like to encourage you to find some type of extracurricular activity to participate in. It could be a part-time job, a school club, local volunteer work, or joining a sports team. It might feel difficult at first, and you may have to force yourself to go in the beginning, but it would be very helpful for you to develop some new habits in terms of how you are spending your time.

TeenHealthFX appreciates that this is a difficult time for you in terms of feeling sad, lonely and not good about yourself. However, we want you to know that there are people out there who will want to be helpful to you about this and that things can definitely get better with time. You are worth way more than how you look and the clothes you wear. By reaching out for help and considering some of our recommendations above, we have high hopes that you will come to feel this way, too!

Signed: TeenHealthFX