When my son was a teenager, we were not best friends. In fact, I think there were times he disliked me. I was not a bad mother to him. I just called him out every time he misbehaved. He was the perfect son before he turned 14. He had straight A’s from school and a lot of friends. My husband and I decided to gift him with a laptop and an iPhone for his 14th birthday. It just seemed right because we didn’t want him feeling odd in the society.
Within a month, my son stopped listening to us. The dishes went undone. His room was very messy there was nowhere I could put my feet. Dirty clothes were everywhere. What made the situation worse was that his teachers called asking what was going on with him because his grades were falling. I didn’t know what was going on. One night, I walked into my son’s messy room, and he didn’t notice my presence. He had his head in his laptop switching from webpage to webpage. At times, he would drop it and check his phone. I was mesmerized for minutes. He was acting like a robot and a zombie. Immediately, I knew the cause of the bad behavior – the internet!
A lot of Americans experience what my son experienced. They’re not aware they’re addicted to the internet. A least not until they feel a mini heart attack when they cannot find their phone or their battery dies. My son showed some signs of internet addiction. Here are more signs:
- Spending more time online than you realize: If you or your loved one lose track of time when online, you’re addicted to the internet. Many activities are continuously going on around us. We should be planning our 24 hours. If you don’t check the time for about 3 hours when you have your laptop or phone with you, you are on the brink of an addiction.
- Feeling ecstatic: If the response you exhibit when you are online is extreme happiness, the kind of joy face to face conversations don’t give you, that is a sign of dependency on the internet. Also, if you experience excitement or elation when thinking of chatting with your contacts on your phone, you’re slowly becoming an addict.
- Distraction in social gathering: When Blackberry phones first came out, a lot of people always had their noses in their phone. They would be at a gathering of about 30 people, and yet their phone would be their top priority. They refresh their emails every two minutes. I mean, take a chill pill! If this is you when you are with family or friends, you should check yourself.
- Withdrawal symptoms: I took away my son’s laptop and phone for a week. Oh, my God! He was irritable, depressed, angry, and moody for that period. If you feel like this when you have no access to the internet, you are dangerously attached.
- Relationship problems: Communication is essential in a relationship. If you prefer communicating with people in online chat rooms or with your social media contacts, you will have relationship problems. Your family, friends and partner will feel like you don’t need them in your life. You might lose people you care about because of your addiction.
- Escaping from reality: You should not see the internet as a source of escape. When you feel depressed and angry, you ought to confront your source of anger. However, if you log on to different sites looking for comfort from people you don’t know, that’s a dangerous symptom. It means you are starting to lose focus with reality.
- Creating a “second life”: Many people derive happiness from the number of followers they have on social media. They post pictures and check every interval of two minutes for how people have “liked” the photo. A lot of other people have created lives for themselves that is nothing like what they are in reality. They are addicted to the internet. And they probably suffer from low self-esteem.
I hope you understand now the signs and symptoms. They might seem like trivial things, but some can be quite worrying. Internet addiction can make people lose their jobs because they are not productive enough. Now, we’ll go on how to quit being an addict.
How to Quit Being Addicted to the Internet
- Treat the underlying problem: All addictions start with a feeling. It could be self-esteem problems, depression, anger, confidence issues, and so on. If you have an addiction, you need to search yourself to discover the cause. There is always a cause.
- Get support: Seek professional help: There are several hotlines you can call that will help you quit the addiction. Also, there are numerous support groups you can register with. Many individuals are going through the same thing. If you feel professional help is too drastic, you can seek help from your family and friends. They can time you or even disconnect you from the Wi-Fi when you have been online too much.
- Make use of a timer: Instead of checking your Snapchat, Instagram or WhatsApp often, take advantage of the timer on your phone to know how much time you spend online. If you intend to spend about 30 minutes checking relevant sites for your project, don’t exceed that time-frame. You will end up being more industrious. You can also log in the emotions you feel when online. Keep track of what triggers you to spend a lot of time online. Once you do, the problem is already half-solved.
- Develop a new skill/activity: The best way to cope with an addiction is to look for something to invest your time. Learn a new skill. You can even learn a new language. New activities will help you think less of your phone or laptop. Make sure the activity is something you will love. Otherwise, you might just relapse.
The truth is that breaking an addiction is not easy. Internet addiction is even harder to quit because most people want to conduct business online. Using the internet this way is good. However, if you find yourself doing unnecessary things when you should be doing more important activities, you need to check yourself. The signs are easy to detect. Try to figure out if you are exhibiting one or more signs and take active steps to quit if you are. Be more productive!
Photo Credit: Justbelieverecovery