Overcoming internet addiction
I must confess… I am addicted to the internet. I don’t play online games or computer games in general, but that only made it harder to realize that I am addicted. Because I could rationalize that when I was watching videos or reading Wikipedia I was educating or informing myself about what was going on in the world. Partly that was true. I think that it is important to be informed and educated. Democracy depends on people being well informed. But when search for information becomes so pervasive that you are doing it compulsively, it is time to do something about it.
A year ago I installed parental control software on my computer. In my case I was going to parent myself. I blocked streaming media (videos, etc) and I blocked all web access between 11 pm and 7 am. No more watching videos until 2 in the morning!
I saved administrator password online, on my email account. It is completely random string of characters so I cannot remember it. The success was only partial though. Many times during the last year I logged in to my email, copy-pasted the password and overcame the blockade to watch videos or extended internet access beyond 11 pm. Sometimes it worked though and I didn’t watch videos that I would have watched otherwise and I never woke up in the middle of the night and went online. Because I couldn’t – I was locked out.
The mixed success that I got from this experiment prompted me to go a few steps further and do something more radical. Last week I changed settings and now all web access is blocked all the time except Wednesdays from 8–10 pm and Sundays 6–10 pm.
It has not been even a full week since changing settings and I am already happy about this decision. I feel that now that I am free from the internet I can do so much more things that I really want to do, but have never found time to do it. I really do not need to check my emails every day! And for emergency situations I can always go to the internet at my workplace.
If you, like me, have problems with internet addiction I recommend that you install parental control software, too. I believe that the most important thing in doing so is that you do not give yourself access to internet every day. It is better to have four hours of access two times per week than to have one hour every day, because regularity is what builds a habit – and an addiction. I recommend three non-consecutive days per week as a maximum, but you can have less if you want. With limited time reserved for the internet you will read and watch that what you really want to read and watch, and not just everything you happen to find.
Be smart and, like Odysseus, tie yourself to the mast of parental control software. Enjoy the songs of internet Sirens safely.