Friday, September 20, 2013

Internet Addiction: When It Becomes a Problem and How to Fix It

Most teenagers have at least one thing that associates them with the internet (besides using it for school). There are so many ways that the internet can appeal to anyone: online gaming sites, social networking sites, blogging sites, etc. It is absolutely fine to spend leisure time on the internet. It can be a good (and fun) way to connect with friends, release stress, and share your thoughts, art, photos, etc. However, as the amount of time spent online increases to an amount that starts to interfere with other activities, it can become a burdening and inconvenient addiction.

Symptoms that internet addiction is becoming a problem:
  • Constantly thinking about the internet -Thinking about being online, and often looking forward to logging onto online accounts.
  • Cancelling plans to do other activities, such as spending time with friends, school opportunities, extra-curricular activities, etc. to spend more time online.
  • Spending more time online than is necessary - Staying online longer than originally planned, or just staying online for so long that the user hasn't moved, eaten, or talked for hours. For example, the user might tell themselves that they will only spend 1 hour, but then that turns into 2 hours, then 3...
  • Feeling anxious when offline, and happy and relaxed when online.
  • Realizing that internet addiction has begun - If the user complains about tired, dry eyes, soreness from sitting in one position for so long, and a feeling of wanting to get off the internet but not being able to, or wanting to stop, then it is likely that they have internet addiction. This symptom is actually rather positive, because it is the first step in decreasing internet usage time, and thus, stopping the addiction!

Now, a few tips on slowing down and eventually stopping internet addiction:
  • Get busy! - Start getting involved in things that keep you out of the house, or even just off the computer! Teach yourself to play an instrument, collect pieces of junk around your eyes and make an art project out of it, join a school sport, or continue pursuing a hobby that you already love!
  • Procrastinate getting on the computer - Once you turn on the computer and get online, you will have a hard time getting off. If you don't get on in the first place, its much easier to stay off. Everyday (or maybe even every week), try to have a plan to "procrastinate" for 15 minutes longer than you did the day (or week) before. 
  • Give your passwords to a trusted friend/family member.
The process can be very slow and frustrating, and it may get boring when you aren't in the mood to do anything but go on the internet. However, once you start to move away from constantly being online, and start to do other things that you enjoy, you will feel like a fresh, new person!


Teen Link is an anonymous and non-judgemental Teen helpline. Call or chat online (Mondays, Tuesdays, and Thursdays) from 6pm-10pm at 1-866-TEENLINK.