Internet addiction is a growing problem because it can cause emotional and physical problems, damage personal relationships, and reduce performance at work or study. However, if you experience these problems, you can work around them by limiting your internet use, filling your time with alternative activities, and seeking support.
Part 1 of 3: Controlling Internet Usage
Step 1. Take note of the things that hinder your addiction to the internet
Make a list of activities that you used to like or need but now can't do because of spending too much time on the internet. This is not meant to make you feel guilty, but rather to motivate you to reduce your internet use.
Step 2. Determine the right target time to use the internet
Unlike some types of addiction, internet use should not be completely eliminated given the many uses of the internet in everyday life. However, you can and should decide on the appropriate amount of time that can be set aside for personal internet use.
- Limit internet use to work, business, or school purposes only.
- Make a list of other obligations you have and activities you want to do such as sleeping, spending time with friends and family, exercising, traveling, working or studying, and so on.
- Determine the ideal amount of time you need per week to meet these needs.
- Calculate the amount of time you have left per week and the amount of time you want to set aside for leisure or personal use. From the remaining time, set aside an appropriate amount of time for personal internet use. Then, you can apply this information to other methods to reduce the time spent using the internet.
Step 3. Create a new schedule
If using the internet is taking up too much of your time, you can stop this problem by filling your schedule with alternative activities. To break the habit, change your schedule with neutral activities. For example, if you're compulsively surfing the internet at home every night, change your schedule during those times by switching to shopping, cleaning, or some other activity that will keep you away from your computer.
Step 4. Use external help
Helping someone or something to reduce internet use can be very effective. Because it is external, you will not feel too stressed and can fill your time with a variety of alternative activities.
- You can set an alarm to sound at a certain time when you need to stop using the internet. At first it may seem difficult, but stick to the target set.
- Plan important activities or events to prevent you from using the internet. For example, if you tend to start browsing the internet haphazardly during the day, schedule important meetings and appointments at that time.
- Various applications can be used to reduce internet usage. For example, some applications work by turning off internet access for a predetermined period of time.
Step 5. Set priorities
Internet addiction can be reduced if online activity is compared to the rest of your life. Make a list of all the offline activities (not involving the internet) that you want or should do. Then, rank these activities by importance compared to time spent using the internet.
- For example, instead of buying things you don't need or want online, you can use that time to read a book you've been wanting to read for a long time.
- Prioritize the offline version of activities over the online version. For example, instead of interacting with friends through social media, make it a goal to meet them in person.
- You can also prioritize the tasks you want to do before spending time on the internet. For example, instead of surfing the internet, tell yourself that weekends are better spent cleaning the garage.
Step 6. Avoid problematic apps, sites or habits
If you find that you've wasted a lot of important time on a particular internet usage, you can stop it altogether. Internet gaming, social media, gambling, and shopping are common culprits. However, any type of internet use can be problematic.
Step 7. Use a reminder card
Creating a visual reminder of your internet addiction and your determination to stop it can be a great way to reduce the time spent using the internet. With index cards or sticky notes, write down messages for yourself and stick them in a visible place (such as on or near the computer, on the refrigerator, desk, etc.). Or, carry the messages. Try writing messages like:
- "Playing game X takes up too much time that I can spend with my friends."
- "I'm not happy when I spend all night using the internet."
- I'm not taking my laptop to bed tonight."
Step 8. Exercise
Adequate exercise has many benefits. Regular exercise can help keep your body healthy, improve your mood, boost your self-confidence, help you sleep better, and much more. If you have problems with internet addiction, exercise can also be a great alternative to pass the time.
Part 2 of 3: Seeking Help
Step 1. Find a support group
Addiction to the internet is becoming increasingly recognized and new sources of help can now be found in many locations. Support groups for Internet addicts can provide understanding, strategies for dealing with the problem, and information on additional sources of help. Try to find information about these groups in your area through your local community center or trusted people such as family members or doctors.
Step 2. Call a counselor
Professional assistance from specialists trained in treating Internet addiction can in most cases be beneficial. A counselor can help you develop a plan of action to reduce your internet use, increase your participation in other activities, and understand the habits or motivations that are causing you to become addicted to the internet. A support group or doctor may be able to refer you to a counselor.
Motivational interviews and reality therapy are techniques counselors sometimes use to treat internet addiction. In these methods, the counselor asks open-ended questions, listens reflectively, and uses other techniques to help you better understand the problem
Step 3. Join family therapy
Depending on the situation, addiction to the internet can be detrimental to you and your family. Family members can also provide applied and emotional support to help you overcome the addiction. A counselor can help you develop strategies for family therapy or make referrals to specialists in the area.
Step 4. Visit a treatment center
As awareness of internet addiction has grown, addiction treatment centers have also started developing programs to help people experiencing this problem. In addition, “digital detox” campgrounds that provide internet-free places to think and learn about overcoming internet addiction can also be found in several areas.
Step 5. Try medication
Experts are still studying the causes and treatment methods for overcoming internet addiction. However, drugs such as escitalopram, bupropion SR, methylphenidate, and naltrexone have been used to treat Internet addiction in some trials. Talk to your doctor if you are interested in taking medication to treat this addiction.
Part 3 of 3: Identifying the Problem
Step 1. Calculate the time you spend using the internet
Spending a certain amount of time using the internet is a common thing. However, internet addiction implies that the time spent using the internet exceeds the time needed for work, school or healthy personal needs. You can start thinking about whether you suffer from this addiction by noting the amount of time you spend on the internet each week and the impact it has on other activities in your life. Spending too much time on the internet can cause you to:
- Use the internet longer than you want. Checking email, for example, can take hours because you're also browsing.
- Thinking of using the internet even while you are doing other activities.
- Have to use the internet more often just to get the same level of fun.
Step 2. Look for evidence that internet use negatively affects your mood or mental health
Internet use that is done too often can cause various emotional problems. You may be addicted to the internet if you experience the following symptoms:
- Feeling restless, angry, or upset when you don't have much time to use the internet or trying to reduce it
- Using the internet to escape or ease emotional problems
- Replace the activity you used to enjoy by surfing the internet
- Feeling guilty, ashamed, or disgusted by time spent using the internet
- Can't reduce the habit of using the internet after trying to stop it repeatedly
Step 3. Watch out for signs that indicate that internet use is damaging your health
Addiction to the internet can cause various problems in the body. However, these symptoms may not appear suddenly or are directly related to internet use. Some of the serious problems caused by this addiction are:
- Weight gain
- Weight loss
- Back pain
- Carpal tunnel syndrome (carpal tunnel syndrome)
- No or lack of sleep
Step 4. Recognize the symptoms when internet use is damaging social relationships
Apart from causing emotional and physical problems, internet addiction also has a detrimental effect on personal and professional relationships. Some signs that you are suffering from this problem are:
- Losing a job or experiencing a decrease in the quality of work due to spending too much time using the internet
- Decreased achievement in school
- Problems in personal relationships (e.g. fighting over internet use)
- The end of a relationship because of your internet usage.
- Lying to other people (spouse, family, coworkers, etc.) about your internet usage
- Neglecting time with family or friends to use the internet
Step 5. Learn the signs of internet addiction in children
Because the internet is widely accessible in many areas and by many ages, everyone, including children, can suffer from internet addiction. Parents or guardians can help control children's internet use. However, this addiction can also be treated, especially if you consult a specialist in the field. Some signs that indicate that a child is addicted to the internet are if the child:
- Secretly using the internet
- Lying about time spent using the internet
- Angry or upset when an electronic device is taken or when internet access is turned off
- Have a strong desire to get back to using the internet as soon as possible
- Staying up late to use the internet
- Refuse or forget homework, schoolwork, or other tasks
- Building new relationships with others via the internet (especially if direct social relationships deteriorate)
- Not interested in doing activities you used to like