One Simple Tip To Get Over Your Internet Addiction (And Yes, You’re Probably Addicted)

internet addiction

Do you remember when smoking was actually cool? Now, when I see someone puffing a fag, I think, “wow that’s so 1990! What are you doing?”

The same can be said for other major addictions including; illegal substances, alchohol, and fast food. Just last year, Coca-Cola’s profit declined by 14%, due to consumer lifestyle changes.

But we’re now in the year 2015, and there’s a new drug on the block that could be even more powerful than those mentioned above. It’s called the internet.

Still not convinced? Check out this TED talk by Dr. Kimberly Young.

By the end of this post, you will learn if you’re addicted to the internet, and if you are, I have one simple tip that can help you.

How do know if you’re addicted to the internet?

According to the American Psychiatric Association, Internet addiction can include three or more of the following:

  • The user needs to spend ever-increasing amounts of time online to feel the same sense of satisfaction.
  • If they can’t go online, the user experiences unpleasant withdrawal symptoms such as anxiety, moodiness and compulsive fantasising about the Internet. Using the Internet relieves these symptoms.
  • The user turns to the Internet to cope with negative feelings such as guilt, anxiety or depression.
  • The user spends a significant amount of time engaging in other activities related to the Internet (such as researching internet vendors, internet books).
  • The user neglects other areas of life (such as relationships, work, school and leisure pursuits) in favour of spending time on the Internet.
  • The user is prepared to lose relationships, jobs or other important things in favour of the Internet.

Yikes. I don’t know about you, but I found this pretty confronting.

The impact of the internet

The internet is a great innovation, and I honestly can’t imagine a world without it, which is also kind of sad.

It’s sad because of the impact it has on our lives. Personally, I’ve been a slave to the internet since the mid 2000s. And it’s become worse since the development of smartphones. We can now access an abundance of information at any time with minimal effort, literally at the tip of our fingertips.

More specifically, this is how the internet has impacted my life:

  • I procrastinate more, because I fear that I might miss out on something.
  • I feel guilty when I scroll through my social media feeds, knowing that I’m basically wasting time.
  • I’ve forgotten how to spend time doing other fun things. Uno anyone?
  • It has become an addiction.

And because of the instant accessibility, we’re all addicted. Literally addicted like crack.

I don’t see a huge difference between someone who is twitching on the street because they’re high off drugs, to someone who is caught at the traffic lights and can’t go 5 seconds without checking their phone.

I strongly believe that in the next couple of decades, there will be internet rehab clinics, and more research will be conducted on how the internet has negatively impacted our lives. There’s already strong evidence that internet addiction will soon be classified as a mental illness.

Eventually, there will be government intervention to reduce the excessive usage of internet consumption. That’s if we have the will-power to admit that there is a problem in the first place.

But let’s prevent it from reaching that point. Let’s learn to take control of this addiction. For younger generations this is going to be extremely difficult. Heck, I’m Gen Y, and being vegan is child’s play compared to controlling my internet addiction.

Luckily I’ve found a solution. I have one simple yet powerful tip to help you manage your addiction. Here it is.

Turn it off

I did say it was simple right? Simple doesn’t mean it’s easy though.

This is something we’ve been experimenting lately, and so far the results have been great. Every night at 7pm, we turn off our wi-fi router, and our cellular network on our devices.

No more social media, no more news, no more email. It’s a beautiful thing.

At first it’s kind of weird because you start to remember what you can do on your devices without internet. On your computer, you might rediscover your passion for design, or writing. On your tablet, you might be more likely to read that book you’ve been meaning to read on your kindle app. On your phone, you might be inspired to call a close friend and have a random chat for 30 minutes (which seems to be a rarity these days).

Not to mention all of the other things you could be doing in life. Like playing Uno…

So there’s my tip, learn how to efficiently disconnect yourself from the internet. Literally go into your device settings and turn off the internet. Do it an hour at a time throughout the day as you adjust, than gradually increase it. Eventually you’ll become a master and only be online a few hours of the day. I’m still working on this part.

Let’s be clear though, the internet is fantastic, and you probably wouldn’t be reading this post if it didn’t exist. All I’m saying is don’t let it run your life the same way drugs, alcohol and fast food has ruined our health system. It’s all part of living mindfully.

I would like to end this post with one of my favourite quotes;

“There is no wi-fi in the forrest but I promise you will find a better connection.” – Author, unknown.

So what about you? Have you been struggling with an internet addiction? Any tips of how to overcome it? Let us know in the comments below.

15 comments… add one
  • Naomi Liddell 10/03/2015 Reply

    As a girl who makes her living online for the most part, I adore the internet. But right now, I’m supposed to be showering and making myself a nutritious meal, instead I found myself sucked into my emails and therefore your blog post. I’m glad I did though. It’s getting switched off for the night NOW. Thanks for the nudge 🙂

    • Ha! Reading an article on the internet about not using the internet is kinda meta. Thanks for taking the time to leave a comment Naomi 🙂

  • Anne E. McGuigan 13/03/2015 Reply

    Hi Michael,
    This is an interesting article. I use the internet much more than I used to because I find it to be a very helpful tool in managing and promoting my website about all things vegan. I have learned to skim through what is not helpful. I do find myself carrying around my IPad in the house and I think this is not a positive thing. I will change this habit, although I do like to have it close in case I get a Skype or FaceTime call from friends and family. Yikes, I am thinking leaving it in one place won’t be that easy to do……Food for thought.
    Many thanks,
    Anne

    • Hey Anne,
      Thank you for sharing your experiences, I think that many of us can relate! We realised that the main driver for keeping devices nearby is the fear of missing out on something. But once we started to disconnect a few hours at a time, we found that we weren’t missing out on much at all. As a result, we’ve been able to free our time to do more things for ourselves.

    • Christoffer 30/09/2017 Reply

      I think phones are a lot worse than internet connected mobile devices.
      I dont think of the internet as a tool, its a lot more than a tool! Just as a body is not merely a tool; neither of our brains nor our brains of the metaphysical existence that is a body, brain and heart temporarily. Nor are our hearts tools or something to be manipulated.

  • Hope Copeland 16/03/2015 Reply

    Great post. Thanks Michael.

  • Anthea 17/03/2015 Reply

    I heard about you guys through our friend Lauren Campbell. I downloaded your 1 week recipe book which looks amazing but I haven’t had a chance to try out any of the recipes yet (probably because I spend too much time on the Internet!) No really, I’m one of the worst offenders. Checking my email/facebook/instagram is literally the first thing I do when I wake up in the morning and the last thing I do before I go to bed at night, almost without exception. Last week I stayed on the Coast for 1 night and there was no cellular data reception. At first I freaked out, and then instead of retreating to my room to check emails and social media, I sat down by the camp fire with friends and we told each other stories. I lasted for a couple of hours until some genius told me that there was wifi, and I spent the next two hours before bed time on the Internet. I sound like a total crazy person but I promise I’m not, I just use the excuse that it’s for work purposes which it all is, but whether it’s actually necessary is a whole other question!

    Anyway, the purpose of this long winded confession is that I needed to build the context to explain why I am so grateful for this post. I’ve done it again today, a whole hour on the Internet before I’m even out of bed, showered and breakfasted. What a wake up call. Today is day 1 on my new journey of learning to “turn it off”! Thank you for writing about something that is such an integral part of our lives, yet also something that we all need to take a step back from and question. +1 new faithful fan of the minimalist vegan!

    • Wow thank you for opening up and sharing your story Anthea! I’m sure many of us can relate to the urges that you have on a day-to-day basis. It becomes second nature to roll out of bed and check your social media and email – same thing before going to sleep at night. We wish you all the best in your journey of learning how to “turn it off”. We know you can do it! Also, welcome to the community 🙂

  • nicola mclean 14/07/2015 Reply

    I’m an artist who lives in a very remote part of Scotland where every other person is also an artist so I use the internet a lot to sell my art, writing an art blog, a Facebook page, twitter, Instagram-you know what it’s like there are so many social media outlets and in order to increase your following there’s so much time you’ve got to spend interacting with others. Not to mention the time spent on online galleries and finding art competitions to enter. I’m hugely thankful that the internet provides this way of reaching art collectors worldwide as I’d sell very little if I was restricted to my own little corner of the world but honestly sometimes I do wish for simpler days before social media. When I feel the same panic being in a location with no Wi-Fi as I used to feel back when I smoked and was close to running out of cigarettes when the shops were shut then I know it’s an addiction!

    • Hi Nicola, thank you for taking the time to share you experiences with the internet. I checked out your site and love what you’re doing with your art. We can definitely relate to your dilemma as the internet powers this very site, a project that is very close to our hearts. But having said all of that, you can still implement times during the day where you completely disconnect, even if it’s just an hour at a time. Tools like Buffer and Hootsuite can help you schedule your social media in advance so you can free up your time. Anyway, keep up the great work!

  • Sanjeev 21/01/2016 Reply

    I completely agree with the writer’s perspective. I have seen many young, bright minds fall prey to the wanton abuse of internet and gaming.

    I have documented my findings in my blog https://kaypeesblog.wordpress.com/2015/12/10/drifters-in-cyberspace/

    I think we are staring at a problem with monstrous proportions. Its time the regulators and scientific community step up to the challenge. This is the new ‘substance abuse’
    Thanks for the wonderful tips!

  • Akanksha 19/07/2017 Reply

    Dear Author,
    I saw you have shared the signs of Internet addiction, and you have referred that it based on the criteria given by American Psychiatric Association, If I may ask you for the reference link for it. I am working on my PhD, with a similar topic and nowhere have I found the criteria for Internet Addiction… Please enlighten me

  • Christoffer 30/09/2017 Reply

    You also use in-person contact for coping with negative emotions.
    You’d sacrifice jobs for a lot of other vital things also; the internet is a new core-aspect of life, like food, seeing people and performing some kind of work as well as sleeping.

    You struck a personal issue on the subject of “designing” and “writing” as such things are used to generate mental patterns collectively, even if this is indeed also happening while online then at least its not the same old groups and people do not get locked to symbolic enslavement only as there are videos also (while symbols and videos also are quite important and the latter also now a core part of life as text is).

    Can you not also be referred to as addicted to work, to socializing, to solitude, to sex and not having sex? To not being online? The world has to sustain you, get things to you and so forth by non-existent pathways when you go online. For example I am addicted to not having sex and never having experienced it.

    This article in some people targets deeply subconscious aspects that triggers “choice” of not using the internet. Even if fasting can be enlightening: I did for several months, it was uncomfortable and has helped me improve my participation. In particular I find fair trade electronics to be vital and broad-scale veganism improvements even more so. I magically like fasting at non-entropy-random “random” times!

    I both rationalize against and for the internet currently…

    In my not so unique case, this article triggers a drive towards denial of Internet access, strangely reading this upon actively sharing things quite healing and “quiet-kept” while only possible via the WWW even if this go against some major factors “guiding” (cough, controlling) the growth of life. Spiritual speak “on larger levels (not higher levels)”.

    I think we need to minimalize on books and text before we talk about the internet, hopefully increasing fair trade electronics and production without this being used to lock specific things from coming to be, being communicated or for that matter people from surfacing and living enjoyable lives.

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