Three Strategies to Help Break an Internet Addiction
A dedicated writer and digital evangelist.
In more ways than most people recognize, the internet has infiltrated every part of our lives. In some cases, that's been beneficial. For example, the internet puts the majority of the world's knowledge right at our fingertips, allowing individual learning on a previously unheard-of scale. It has also enabled free-flowing global communications, making the vast world a much more integrated community.
Not all of the internet's effects have been positive, though.
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As it turns out, there's such a thing as too much of a good thing. As evidence, some studies have shown that as much as 6% of the global population
has developed an internet addiction, and more specifically, according to addiction statistics
, somewhere between 5% and 8% of the adult population is now addicted to pornography. Even more worrisome, the average smartphone user touches their device 2,617 times every day
For those reasons, it's advisable for people to know how to break some of their bad habits when it comes to the internet. The trouble is, there's no single method that will work for everyone, so to help, here are three suggestions to use to break out of an internet-related addiction.
Paralysis by Analysis
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It is often said that people who examine data for too long tend to delay action and experience a condition known as analysis paralysis
. When it comes to controlling internet excess, that tendency can be useful. To trigger it, start by making notes on what kinds of situations make you feel the urge to pick up your phone or log onto a computer. In most cases, you'll find some commonality there and can devise an alternate action to take when you know that you're going to feel that urge. In some cases, just being conscious of what you're doing will be enough to give you the ability to stop. So, as a first effort, try keeping a watchful eye on your internet habits. What you find might be quite useful in your attempts to regain control.
Quiet Your Devices
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For most people with an internet-related addiction, just resisting the urge to go online is all they can manage. Their willpower, however, starts to crumble the moment their device gives them a notification that there's something new waiting for them. That's no accident. In fact, the flood of push notifications that everyone gets on their phones, tablets, and computers is designed specifically to elicit that response
. So, if you're having trouble resisting the siren call of the internet, try shutting off all of those push notifications and muting alert sounds on your devices. You might be surprised how much it helps you avoid compulsive internet usage.
Take a Digital Vacation
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As much as it may pain you to do so, sometimes the best way to break away from the internet is to unplug and take a digital vacation
. If possible, you should do this in concert with a literal vacation, so you'll remain occupied with other fun activities while you're unplugged. Either way, though, the key is to define a period of consecutive days when you won't go online. Make sure to let the people in your life know you'll be disconnected, and that you will only be reachable by – gasp – landline phones for a while. This tear-off-the-bandage approach is sometimes the only sure way to force your brain to reset and understand that it's not only possible to live an offline life, but that it's enjoyable, too.
Take Back Control
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The good news in all of this is the fact that internet-related addictions, as opposed to substance-related ones, are something you can work to control with some simple behavior modification. Sure, it's not always easy, but at least you won't have to deal with the kinds of DTs
that come with alcohol and drug withdrawal. With some effort, it's possible to use strategies like the ones above to regain control over how, when, and why you choose to go online. All that it really takes is to make the decision to do it.
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