Time spent online

computer eyes by NikkiMost of us spend a fair bit of time on the internet these days, but for an increasing number of people time spent online is becoming a problem.

From Facebook and checking your emails to boards and online gaming, it’s now understood that people can become psychologically dependent or addicted to being online.

Internet addicted?

It’s not uncommon to spend a bit more time online than you mean to – we can all get caught up watching videos or chatting to friends. However, there are certain indicators that can suggest that your time online is becoming a problem for you:

  • if you’re finding that you will miss out on going out with friends to stay online
  • if you’re letting other aspects of your life, like your work or your relationships, slip
  • if you feel worried or anxious when you can’t be online
  • if it’s beginning to interrupt your day-to-day life

If you notice that you’re feeling like this, there are things you can do to work on it and start getting back into a healthier routine.

What you can do

Spending too much time online is a habit you get into by doing it a lot, so it’s a habit you can break by cutting down and finding other things to do instead. Here’s a few ideas:

Identify the time-traps

Work out how much time you spend online and what sort of stuff you’re doing. That way, it’s easier to figure out what you can cut back on. The internet is one big distraction, and procrastinator heaven. If you think you’re just using it for work or study and find on closer inspection you’re actually wasting time on other stuff, then you’ll be more aware of doing that and can cut it down.

Set limits

Set yourself allotted amounts of time to hang out online doing different things– whether it’s checking Facebook, chatting or gaming, and try to stick to them. This can be hard if you have to be online for work or study, but giving yourself a certain amount of time to do it means that you’ll be more conscious of the extra time you spend surfing around doing nothing in particular. Don’t worry if it’s hard at first, it will get easier with practise.

Distract yourself

When you find yourself tempted to go or stay online, have a list of good distractions at the ready – it could be calling a friend for a chat, going for a run, getting out of the house to meet people, re-organising your room, making a life-size statue of yourself out of things you find in the fridge – you know, anything that takes all your focus. If night-time is your internet downfall, try leaving your laptop somewhere annoying to get, or watching a film you love.

Get busy

Having other stuff to do and think about can be really helpful if you’re trying to cut down on your internet use. Volunteering with a charity, taking up a sport, joining a club or drama group are some ideas – it means you’re not sitting in front of a computer, and so busy you won’t have time to miss it.

Take care of yourself

If you’re surgically attached to your computer, you might find you’re not doing some of the things you should be, like getting some exercise, eating right and spending time with the people you care about. Ignoring your emails and turning off your phone for a few hours or a weekend is can actually be amazing – it can even improve your productivity and creativity. 

Sometimes the internet can be a place to escape to when other things in your life aren’t going so well, and if this is the case, talking to someone can really help.

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