Published: Feb 26, 2013 07:00 PM
Modified: Feb 26, 2013 06:33 PM
Since 1994, the year that popular Internet browsers became widely available, psychologists have been concerned about the Internets power and appeal.
When you add it all up incessant Web surfing; over-allegiance to chat rooms, forums and discussion groups; fixation on online pornography, gambling and games; music, movie and other media downloading the portrait of a society and indeed a world sitting on its derriere, breezing through one screen after another emerges.
By some estimates, as many as 10 percent of Web users are living with one or more forms of Internet dependency, which has now been given the name of Internet Addiction Disorder, or IAD. You dont need a battery of tests to know whether or not the Internet is starting to become intrusive in your life. If you find yourself spending increasing amounts of time online and experiencing a growing sense of anxiety when youre not online, you may be at risk. Whats more, the phenomena is not confined to the Internet per se. People who check their cell phones, pagers, telephone answering devices, and any electronic information or communication gizmos on a too frequent basis may be exhibiting addictive behavior.
Consider your balance of activities in the last year. Are you spending less time devoted to career, community, social and recreational pursuits because of the amount of time you find yourself online?
If you find yourself checking email all day long, or constantly jumping on the Web to catch the news, keep up with some discussion group, or troll your favorite sites while other aspects of your life get short shrift, it might be time for some self-confession. The key to overcoming any addiction is to first acknowledge that you indeed are afflicted. Following that acknowledgment, you then have to summon the requisite motivation to change. Without realization and motivation, nothing is likely to happen.Balancing act
Unquestionably, the Internet is a marvel of our age. The ability to find answers, make connections, order goods and satisfy curiosities is certainly enticing. It boggles my mind to think what Da Vinci, Newton, Einstein, and other geniuses could have achieved aided by the knowledge on the Internet.
The Internet, however both giveth and taketh away. As with so many aspects of life, the key to using the Internet effectively is to achieve a fine balance. It has become a major and indeed vital part of the lives of many of its devotees. It would be hard now, to imagine a world in which the Internet does not exist. Since its here to stay, now is as good a time as any to set some boundaries to help define why, how, and when were going to use this wondrous technology.
If this works for you, establish a time limit for daily use. Thirty minutes a day many not be enough, three hours may be excessive. At work, depending on your job responsibilities, all day may be the norm. Thus, your task is to choose the limits for your personal life.
Recognize that excessive Web use may be the indicator of problems in other aspects of your life. Are you devoting time here because there are voids elsewhere? Or are you using the Internet as a tool of procrastination in shirking your responsibilities? If you recognize that youre using the Internet to avoid the challenges of life, shying away from battles that need to be fought, it might be a good idea to speak to a therapist.
Most of us surf the net alone. But if you find reading up on the news or keeping current in some other pursuit is rewarding and enjoyable, you dont have to forsake others in the process.
Can you arrange your space so that you and others can be online at the same time in close proximity, such as at the same table, so that, much like playing cards or a board game, you achieve a variation on the theme of togetherness. That in itself may go a long way towards alleviating some of the problems that excessive time on the Internet may be causing.
In any case, when youre very old, how rewarding will it be to reflect back on the several thousand hours a year you averaged on the Internet over the course of your life?