Before we dive into 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, alcohol, 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’ll 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, where 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 fantasizing about the Internet. Using the Internet relieves these symptoms.
- Turns to the Internet to cope with negative feelings such as guilt, anxiety or depression.
- Spends a significant amount of time engaging in other activities related to the Internet (such as researching internet vendors, internet books).
- Neglects other areas of life (such as relationships, work, school and leisure pursuits) in favor of spending time on the Internet.
- 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 internet addiction
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 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 firmly 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 excellent. Every night at 7 pm, 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. For your tablet, you might be more likely to read that book you’ve been meaning to read on your Kindle app. And 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 disconnect yourself from the internet efficiently. Literally, go into your device settings and turn off the internet. Do it an hour at a time throughout the day as you adjust, then 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 with intentionality.
I would like to end this post with one of my favorite quotes;
“There is no wi-fi in the forest 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 on how to overcome it? Let us know in the comments below.