My name is Vanessa, and I am a Netoholic.
Internet addiction n problematic, pathological or excessive computer use that interferes with daily life. Also know as a ‘Netoholic.’
Internet addiction is a bit strong, but I think that minor electronic addiction affects us all in some way. Here are 7 steps and ideas to help slow, stop or at least acknowledge your, your kid’s or your significant other’s internet addiction disorder.
Internet Addiction Recovery Tips:
1. Internet Addiction Symptoms Vary
If you think this post does not apply to you, you are probably wrong. Being addicted to something does not mean that you are not also a normal functioning person. A minor addiction can be just as troubling. If you ever feel compulsive or anxious about not being online or missing something when you are away from your computer, then this can be something to address in your life.
Ending your denial about your addictions is the first step to recovery. As I mentioned above, addiction comes in all levels. I spend about 12 hours a day online. This is OK with me as long as I know I will be OK if I unplug at anytime, take frequent small breaks and day or week long breaks. It is a constant effort to keep checking in with myself to make sure I am leaving the drug every once in a while and when I feel myself crossing over to online land as a permanent resident I recognize that I need to take a step back.
3. Facebook Addiction
Pingxiety n The state of anxiety that arises from hearing an email, IM, Social network ‘ping’ or alert.
I slowly began to realize that whenever my google notifier makes its little ding, my heart flutters and clammy hands until I get to see who the email is from is not healthy. I also found the same amount of anxiety when my text message sound came on, someone pinged me on gchat, I got a retweet…you get the idea. I have now turned off my google notifiers, stopped automated notifications of social network pings, updates, tweets and messages and have my phone on silent for texts and voicemails. To address my pingxiety and consequent electronic addiction, I have turned off the reminders of my drug and now only check at designated times. (Helpful to those of you who send me pitches via email to be on our blog)
- Check email at 8am, 12pm, 5pm (only respond to urgent emails)
- Respond to all other emails ONLY Monday, Wednesday and Friday 10-12…and you would be surprised, but I am polite about this and people deal with it. Instead of having 5 short emails back and forth, we just have 2 long ones.
- Check phone only when on break (waiting in line, waiting for my oatmeal to heat up, after checking email before I workout, etc)
- Gchat/IM is always off and I go on when I want to specifically talk to someone
- Twitter/Facebook only gets checked when I am bored and through my phone out of the house (lines, 5 minutes early to an appointment etc)
Amazingly, I still get everything done even in these shortened hours. The hours I am still online, but I am doing fun or necessary projects and I am in control of my actions, instead of my actions being ruled by my pings.
4. Share, Share, Share
Ask for help! Talk to others about this! Everyone is having their own difficulties with this problem. Talking to others will help you feel less alone and share tactics, ideas and vent about how to fix it. You can also get a buddy to help you unplug every once in a while.
5. Find Healthy Substitutes
The reason the Internet can be so addictive is because it is often times the strongest source of pleasure and satisfaction in a person’s life. I find I go to the Internet to fill up space in my life–when I am bored (chat with people from College), when I am sad (to watch funny videos), when I want knowledge on something (to read an article). When people cannot find passion, inspiration and happiness from life itself, they turn to their virtual lives. Therefore, in order to beat Internet Addiction, I had to find things in real life that could fill up that emptiness I was feeling. For me, these substitutes included:
- Dance classes
- Having friends over more often
- Travel on weekend trips where I did not bring my computer
- Joining a gym
- Playing with other friends and neighbors pets because I cannot have one of my own
- Getting real life board games
6. Is Computer Addiction Stress Management?
Not only can using the Internet be a filler for joy it can also be stress management. It is off that the Internet can simultaneously be the cause of all stress while at the same time being the only way to ease stress. The most important thing here is to realize what you do and how you use the Internet if you are stressed. I realized when I was feeling anxious about something in my life I would go through my email and website bookmarks and mindlessly sort and organize them. Once I realized this was not a necessity, but simply a coping mechanism to my real life stress, I started to organize instead my files, my closet, my bookshelves just so I was not mindlessly spending so much time online…and my house gets really clean.
7. Safeguards to Balance Addictions to Electronics
Once you recognize the steps above you need to start building in more safeguards to protect yourself from numbing use and addiction disorder.
- Get some of those real life fillers that make you happy
- Figure out how you use the Internet for stress and find other outlets in the real world.
- Setting a schedule or time limits for how much time you spend online
- Take day long, week long and hour breaks regularly.
- Stop pings if you can.
- Get a buddy to check-in with
- Comment, vent, divulge on this post to see if anyone else feels the same way.
- Avoid people or places that encourage the over-use of the Internet.
This is an important topic to discuss with people who you are close with as well, especially young people. Whenever I give talks to teenagers and tweens about the Internet, I talk to them about Internet addiction, Internet addiction symptoms and how to deal with it and recover from computer or Facebook addiction. Talk about it and understand it is a process, but acceptance is the first step to recovery.