While time spent online can be productive, excessive internet use can sometimes impact negatively on a person’s behaviour or wellbeing, or interfere with work and relationships with friends and family. If you find that the people around you complain that you spend too much time online, it may be time to evaluate your online behaviour.
What is internet addiction?
Internet or computer addiction covers a variety of problems including:
- An addiction to social networking or messaging, to a point where you feel more comfortable with your online friends than your real friends and family.
- Compulsive use of online gaming, gambling, online auction sites, resulting in financial or work-related problems.
- Excessive web surfing leading to lower work productivity and less social interaction with family and friends.
- Compulsive use of Internet pornography, adult chat rooms, or adult fantasy role-playing sites which negatively impact your real-life intimate relationships.
How much is too much?
The amount of time each person spends online varies, and some people might need to use the internet extensively for work. It is only a problem when it absorbs too much of your time and has negative consequences in your real life. You may find that:
- You feel obsessed with particular websites, apps or games
- You feel anxious or irritable when you’re away from your mobile device or computer
- You are isolated or withdrawn when spending time with friends or family
- Students may find themselves feeling excessively tired or see a decline in academic performance
How could a person control internet addiction?
Make an effort to change your internet use.
- Keep a log of how much time you spend online for non-work or non-essential activities. Take note of any particular triggers in your day that cause you to stay online for longer than you planned.
- Set goals for when you can use the internet. For example, limit yourself to check Facebook only once a day, for five minutes, after work each day. Make a commitment to log off when your time is up.
- Replace your Internet usage with healthy activities. Make plans to fill your time, such as going out for a run, meeting up with a friend, or cooking a meal at home with family.