Safer Online – Part 11

Internet Addiction

The allure and ease of socialising online can negatively impact your drive to socialize in the real world. Online addiction is a serious issue and it affects many people. Studies suggest that people who are prone to obsessive behaviours are at greater risk of developing an internet addiction. People with ASD and anxiety disorders are at particularly high risk.

It’s easy to see why – the internet offers sanctuary and an easy way to connect and communicate with peers. When most of your friends are internet-based, that‘s where you will want to spend most of your time.

It’s crucial for your mental and physical health to develop and maintain relationships in the real world. The internet is a wonderful tool, but if it interferes with your ability to spend time with friends and family, it might be time to take a break.

Tips to Counter Internet Addiction

  • Set yourself a time limit when you‘re on the computer. You might like to set a timer for an hour or two and log out when the time is up.
  • Create a roster or make plans to spend a certain amount of time with friends and family, or enjoying hobbies and exercise, each day. Include your online time in your roster, but plan other activities for your free time as well.
  • Make sure you have completed all the other tasks you need to do, like chores, before you go online each day.
  • Use specially designed apps to remind you to take a break. Programs like Offtime monitor your usage and show you how much time you‘ve been spending on social media. You can even set them to block certain sites, like Facebook, during certain times of the day.
  • Set your social media push notifications to silent on your phone or tablet. This way, you’ll receive them when you login and not when you‘re busy with other activities.

If you feel that you might be falling victim to an internet addiction, you can ask your doctor for a referral to an experienced therapist who will be able to give you more advice.

Check in again next week for the next instalment: How to Protect Yourself on Popular Social Networks