MALIBU, Calif. — Seventeen-year-old David Mayer from Ohio says he felt constant pressure from his parents to be perfect. Overwhelmed, he started using drugs.
“I was struggling with severe depression and anxiety,” Mayer told CBS News correspondent Mireya Villarreal.
He also got lost online for up to four hours a day.
“I felt like for all of my posts I would create this false character of who I was. What I thought was the perfect version of myself, what I wanted to be, which is this young, funny, attractive guy. And obviously, I was kind of neglecting the fact that I did have a lot of sadness within me and a lot of loneliness,” Mayer said.
Mayer became withdrawn and stopped talking to his parents – until they took matters into their own hands.
“I got woken up – 4 a.m. Just two guys with my bags packed and I was pretty frightened at first,” Mayer said.
“Did you know these guys?” Villarreal asked.
“No, my parents had hired them to take me here,” Mayer said.
They forced Mayer into therehab facility for 30 days to treat his social media addiction. Cellphones and internet surfing aren’t allowed.
Fifty percent of teens say they feel addicted to their mobile devices, according to Common Sense Media, a non-profit organization, and studies show teens who spend more time on social media are more likely to report mental health issues than those who spend less time on the sites.
Seventeen-year-old Arizona native Caitlyn Walker is also seeking treatment at Paradigm.
“I’d sit in my room for days at a time and just kind of be there. And I had nothing else to do except just kind of crawl up and go on social media,” Walker said. She said things began spiraling out of control when her parents’ marriage hit a rough patch. She turned to social media for comfort, but instead became the target of online bullying.
“Like I literally had pictures in my camera of people bullying me – and I kept it,” Walker said.
“Why?” Villarreal asked her.
“I don’t know,” she responded. “It was just kind of like confirmation that I wasn’t good enough.”
“If you know that Instagram and Twitter and Facebook are causing you all this pain, why do you keep going back to it then?”
“It’s hard to detach and realize that it’s a really negative part of your life,” Walker said.
Paradigm said its program, which includes therapy and reconnecting with the outdoors, has an 80 percent success rate. It can cost upwards of $50,000, but some insurance companies do help cover the expense.
After 30 days, Walker isn’t ready to delete her profiles. But she’s now learned: “You have the power to block someone or delete them or not look at it. And I think when I was in that situation, I felt like I didn’t have the power to do that,” Walker said.
Mayer now fills his time playing basketball and reading. His program might be over, but his journey is just beginning.
“I plan on deleting my Twitter, deleting my Snap Chat … I know now that I’m not going to create this false character. I just need to give more time for myself,” Mayer said.
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