With the internet getting all the more accessible and useful to one’s daily life, that it has become practically impossible to avoid using the internet. At the same time, we need to be aware that the overuse of the internet can be problematic. Here I decided to list 5 ways of how to avoid becoming addicted to the internet, while still being able to use it. In order words, how to control it, without letting it control you.
- Download an app which can help you track how much time you spend online, and on what. This will help give you some insight in your internet use. Are you mostly scrolling through social media? Checking your emails? Reading up on something? The best way to tackle or prevent a problem is through awareness. So this would be the first step. You may be shocked at the results.
- When home (and as long as you don’t work from home!) limit your internet use. You can do this by making rules such as that for example, if the sun is shining, you have to do an outdoor activity without technology for at least an hour, before you can then make use of the internet. This will ensure that you get some needed exercise and/or outdoor air, before losing yourself to the internet. Otherwise, you can still limit your internet use by switching off your wifi and only turning it on for a few hours after work. Notify people important to you that you will more reachable via phoning or texting, so that you don’t have to worry about someone sending you something over a social media platform.
- Create projects for yourself. The internet can be a wonderful distraction, you go on looking for something in particular, and three hours down the line you’re seeing a montage about cats being scared of fruit. How about giving yourself projects instead? Maybe you want to pick up a hobby like art, or you’ve been meaning to rearrange the furniture in the living room to make it more spacious? You might also decide to start giving friends and family handmade cards for special occasions, so better get cracking on them! Giving yourself a project will give you the inspiration and motivation to do something other than get distracted by cat videos or endlessly scrolling through social media.
- Set a timer on your wifi so that it switches off at 10pm. If you need to wake up for work in the morning, chances are your internet use is not letting you get the amount of sleep necessary. Apart from that, the blue light emanating from technology affects how sleepy we feel. By making your wifi switch off at 10pm, you can have plenty of time to read something before you sleep, which won’t only help you to relax and sleep better, but it will also prevent you from using the internet until the early hours of the morning.
- Meet people in real life. The internet has many advantages, one of which is the ability to stay in touch with people. While this is amazing for our friends and family abroad, when you and your friends live in the same country it might be wiser to just meet up for a coffee together and catch up then. Physical interactions in real life have a better impact on our moods and relationships than when we communicate online. So set aside some time for your loved ones and meet together for coffee or food.
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Christakis, D. A., & Moreno, M. A. (2009). Trapped in the net: will internet addiction become a 21st-century epidemic?. Archives of pediatrics & adolescent medicine, 163(10), 959-960.
Wang, R., Bianchi, S. M., & Raley, S. B. (2005). Teenagers’ Internet use and family rules: A research note. Journal of Marriage and Family, 67(5), 1249-1258.
Mel McElhatton holds a degree in Social Work from the University of Malta. With Willingness, Mel does life coaching and is one of the facilitators in the IRL – In Real Life team. They are also the producer of the radio show Niddiskutu s-Sess. They can be contacted on firstname.lastname@example.org or call us on 79291817.