Ways to Overcome Internet Addiction
Computers have changed our lives in ways we couldn't have imagined twenty, fifteen, even ten years ago. But when computers and the Internet begin to take over our lives, it becomes a problem. Internet addiction is a fast-growing trend in America, and as more people have regular access to it and are expected to use the Internet for their jobs, it will become increasingly difficult to avoid becoming dependent on it.
Although it is new enough that there are relatively few longitudinal case studies on it, Internet addiction is thought to have many of the same symptoms as dependence on drugs or alcohol, including social withdrawal, disrupted functioning in the rest of your life, and even craving and withdrawal symptoms when the Internet is unavailable or withheld.
Fortunately, this means many of the programs developed to help treat chemical addiction can be adapted to this new problem. There are differences, of course, so knowing a few ways to overcome Internet addiction in particular will help keep you prepared.
- As with any other addiction, the most critical first step is admitting that you have a problem. Many people think that Internet addiction is not real or not as severe as drug addiction, but in some cases it can be, so understanding that it is something that can impact your life is critical. Fortunately, it is easy to just an objective measure of how much time you spend on the computer and the Internet. Simply keep a log for a week, of the time you spend online. The answer may surprise you, and may be enough on its own to free you from the addiction cycle.
- Move the Computer
- Put the computer in its own room. Make it harder to "multitask", which really just means that you sit absorbed while others move around in the same room. Instead, by have a dedicated computer room, you force yourself to explicitly choose between, say, the Internet and family time, or the Internet and sleep.
- Lock Yourself Out
- If you live with a loved one, you can ask them to lock you out of the computer for part of the day, or after a period of online time has passed. Make sure the person you select is strong enough to stand up to you, though. You may not think it, but when a craving for online news hits, you may become quite the bully. Make sure your caregiver can take it.
- Alternatively, there are a variety of browser extensions and other programs that also lock you out, according to a schedule you set. A quick Google search should find one to suit your needs.
- Set Aside Time
- Even if you don't lock yourself out, set aside times of the day you won't use the computer and hold yourself to them. You may not have the discipline at first to stick to your schedule, but it will get better. And if nothing else, it will show you the depth of the problem if you're constantly breaking your own schedule.
- Socialize More
- Find other activities to keep you occupied. These don't have to be Internet addict support groups; pick a sport you enjoy or take up an old hobby just for fun. The important thing is to build real relationships with real people. This will help you realize how superficial the Internet can be.
- Get Moving
- Exercise is good for almost every medical condition, and addiction is no exception. Not only does it make you healthier, it also gets you out of the house and away from your computer.