I was chatting with a friend this week who confessed to me, “I think I’m addicted to the Internet.” I responded, “Really? What makes you think that?” She explained, “I took an online test that said I was.”
Aside from the fact that I find it funny that she needed the Internet to tell her she was addicted to the Internet, the issue is no laughing matter. I know because I have been there.
It started with catching up on email during 5 a.m. feedings. Then it progressed to a compulsive need to check Facebook. When I added searching for deals online and researching the infinite pieces of baby gear available to me (you never know when you might need a baby toupee), I was shocked to sometimes find myself online for six (or more) hours a day!
Although I never went as far as these parents, I knew something was not right. I may have had valid reasons for being online (this mom accurately sums up the situation for the majority of us), but like any addiction, when the substance begins to control you instead of the other way around, you know you have a problem.
So how can you get your life back from the clutches of the Internet without going off the grid and moving into a cave in the side of a mountain? Here are some tips that helped me:
Stop cold turkey
I embarked on a Facebook “fast." I posted in my status that I would not be available via Facebook for a few weeks. I asked if anyone needed to contact me that they do so via email. It took awhile, but it purged the Facebook urge. I now only check it once a day, if that.
In a , I mentioned how helpful routines have been in regaining balance in my life. At Flylady’s recommendation, routines and a prodigious use of timers helped keep my day on track.
I had to establish some rules for myself. I would not allow myself to bring the laptop to any family meals or the bedroom. For awhile, I even had to restrict myself to going online only in the daytime. I found that if I hopped on “just to check email” in the evenings after the kids were in bed, the next thing I would know, it was two in the morning.
Your spouse and friends can be helpful in this area (if you use your Facebook status to let people know what you are doing, it is easy for them to say, “Hey! Why were you posting at 2 a.m.??!?”). However, I found the most powerful and effective enforcers were my children. They reveled in watching me like a hawk and went off like alarms in Dolby stereo if they ever caught me violating one of my own rules.
This article is helpful in determining if you might have a problem and offers more tips on overcoming a mild Internet addiction. However, if you find your problem is more severe, do not hesitate to seek professional help. Netaddiction.com or a professional counselor is a good place to start, but be aware that an Internet addiction can be a symptom of something deeper.
Regardless of what steps you choose, remember there is nothing online that can replace your children…and there is nothing that can replace you in their lives. You owe it to them (and yourself) to live life with them in the real world, not a virtual one.