In our hyper-connected world, it can be all too easy to fall into an addiction to something that most of us consider essential to our daily lives: the magical internet. This addiction may take the form of hours spent reading blogs, or following Facebook links and paths, or even just checking email over and over.
Regardless of what form it takes, it may take us a while to recognize it as an addiction at all. Like other addictions, we most likely have denied it and or rationalized it to ourselves, convincing ourselves that we need to check email so frequently so that we don’t miss an important business opportunity, or that we need to look on Facebook to keep up with friends and family.
Indeed, that can be one of the hardest things about this addiction – unlike alcohol or drugs, we can’t just stay away from it. Even if we are not in an office, the person next to us on their phone or I-pad makes us reach for our cell phone in response, as if we, too, are important.
So how do you know if you are addicted? Like any addiction, do you recognize that your phone or I-pad or computer use have become a problem at work, or interfered with your family time? Have there been arguments with friends or family? Have you missed appointments, work, or time with family because you were on the internet instead?
So how can we start to stop the addiction?
We can start by getting some success in concrete ways. Perhaps decide on times that you will turn the phone off- maybe after getting home for work or during family time. Start small here. We don’t want to start off with “I’m not going to go on my phone all day”, but perhaps just going from five to ten minutes between checking email or Facebook.
Another tip is to reach out and get support from people who “get it “. Do you have a close friend or relative who understands? Be careful who you choose here- this needs to be someone who recognizes that it is an addiction, and is willing to help you through those difficult times.
Unlike alcohol or drugs, it’s unlikely in our modern age that you can go “cold turkey” from the internet. Learning to recognize your thoughts around it and getting a sense of where you can feel comfortable turning it off is very important.
A great psychologist or psychotherapist can really help, too. Recognizing the addiction and helping you to find a positive space within to overcome the fears and anxiety that come up are a specialty of Nassau Guidance’s counselors.
The earlier in the addiction that it’s recognized, the easier it is to shift it or work through it. We have great success with clients on working through this (and other) addictions, and hope that you will reach out to us.
My wish for you to today is for you to become aware of your time spent in front of these magical screens.