Internet Addiction Disorder, also known as IAD is excessive computer use that may interfere with daily life. Internet Addicts are more common than we think and more and more people are struggling with their addiction to the Internet on personal, social and mental levels. Many parents write in to us about their kids overusing the Internet asking what they can do about it.
How Do You Know If You Are Addicted to the Internet?
There are a few different indicators for internet addiction disorder. See if any of these apply to you or our child.
__You often find yourself wanting to go home to use the Internet instead of participating in something outside of the Internet.
__You often spend more time than expected on the Internet.
__You often neglect household chores because of the Internet.
__You have more online relationships than offline relationships.
__When you have not gone on the Internet you feel anxious, lonely or depressed.
__Other people in your life often complain about the amount of time you spend online.
__The first thing you do when you wake up in the morning or before you go to sleep is check the Internet.
__You spend more than 4 hours of non-work time online each day.
__Your schoolwork, job or other obligations are often put on hold because you check email or do activities online.
__You get fearful or upset at the idea of not having Internet for an extended period of time.
If you marked yes to more than three of these, you might use the Internet excessively and that could turn into an addiction. The Internet is a wonderful, fun, educational, social tool. But, it cannot take you out of real life. Here are some tips for keeping your Internet use under control and lessening the chances of becoming an Internet addict:
Tips for Stopping Internet Addiction Disorder
1. Keep A Time Log
I highly recommend keeping a time log of how much time you spend online. This might be a lot more than you think and is the first step to recognizing how serious your Internet Addiction is.
2. Work vs Play
Internet Addiction is becoming harder and harder to diagnose because so many people work online. Therefore it is hard to differentiate between work and play. Once you have kept a general time log you want to keep a log of when you are working online and when you are not. This way you are able to see if you are really online for work and if your working is addiction in itself–if you are a workaholic not an Internet Addict.
3. Figure Out What Specifically
If you do not work online then keep a log of what activities you are doing. Is it Facebook specifically? Email? Chat? Many people lump the Internet into one big pile, but you might not have a problem with everything, just one aspect of being online and that is what you can work on.
4. Find Your Trigger
Many people have a trigger that keeps them on the Internet for excessive amounts of time. Keep notes of your online path. Mine looks like this in the morning:
Email-Facebook-Email-Stumbleupon-Blog-Email-Gchat-Email-Google Docs-Email-Google Reader=2.75 hours
5. Stop the Cycle
I quickly realized it wasn’t Facebook or GChat that was keeping me sucked into the online vortex it was email. So I cut it out to see what happened.
Email-Facebook-Stumbleupon-Blog-Gchat-Google Docs-Google Reader-Facebook=1.3 Hours
I saved a ton of time and realized if I only checked my email every two hours I still got the same amount (more done) and no one for work had to wait to long.
6. Talk About It
I think more people need to know about IAD or Internet Addiction Disorder. Talking about it with people you are close with will help you feel not ashamed and spread the word that this is a problem in our society now.
7. Get Accountability
You also might want to tell a few people and then have them check on you. Talk to them about how mornings are your worst Internet time and then work near them or go to coffee with them so they can help you work through it. Or if you have a problem getting off of chat ask them if it would be ok for them not to talk to you on chat anymore except to remind you to take a break.
8. Put Up Hour Limits
Set some clear time limits for yourself. Set kitchen timers, have your roommate unplug your router and put post-its above your computer reminding you to take breaks.
9. Make A Reward
This is a tough thing. The Internet should be addictive–it’s awesome! So go slow and reward yourself when you meet your time limits or only check email twice per day (just do not let the reward be more Internet time).
This is a process. We all go through ups and downs. On vacation or in the summer I check the Internet a lot less, and it is not a problem, same with weekends. Make sure to keep checking in with yourself. I try to start a new time log every 4-6 months just to check-in. My latest one showed a spike in time on Twitter which was not even around at my last check-in and it is something I had to take into account for why I was spending more time online.
Most importantly, do not feel ashamed if you or your child is addicted to spending time online. There are a lot of mom internet addicts as well and it is important to be open about your problem and ask for help if you need it.