Aren’t you glad my topic today isn’t about back to school with ADD? Though it’s an important one, I am ready to read about something else! You, too?
Instead, I wanted to share with you an area that many with ADD struggle with: internet overuse or even addiction.
- Do you find yourself spending too much time on Facebook and other social media?
- Are you able to resist the “ding” that new email has arrived?
- Do you intend to “just spend a minute” researching something only to find yourself online for hours going from one website to another and often jumping topics?
Recently, Kevin Roberts, author of Cyber Junkie: Escape the Gaming and Internet Trap was my guest at The Queens of Distraction chat (click HERE for membership info). He spoke about the challenges many of us face re: using the internet- why it’s so difficult to get control over it, and what we can do about it.
Some of the Queens of Distraction have since made some major changes in how they manage their online time. In fact, they even had a 24- hour respite. (I’m waiting to hear how they did.)
Kevin talked about the ADD brain and its need to be stimulated. He explained that getting lost for hours on Facebook, playing computer games, visiting websites, shopping online – are all ways to avoid the more boring, mundane, repetitive tasks we need to be doing in our daily lives. In essence, the internet activity is our brains’ way of looking for external stimulation to fill the gap.
Further, internet addiction or overuse is often a symptom of something else. Are you bored? Depressed? Anxious? If you’re trying to cut back but are unsuccessful, it may be that you need to address possible co-morbidities of anxiety or depression. Or perhaps reassess your life and ask yourself what might be bothering you so much that you’re escaping it for hours at a time by going online.
Kevin talked about shame, which many of us feel when we find the hours slipping away in front of a monitor. I found his thoughts on shame interesting- that shame shouldn’t drive your goals (regardless of whether it’s related to your internet use, or from something else). Shame doesn’t go away by achieving “goals”. Your goals need to be authentic, the real “you”. Ask yourself what brings you joy. Perhaps the answer to that will take you away from that computer!
Here are some tips Kevin shared for taming your internet behaviors.
1. Change out your routine. If you find yourself heading to the computer after your morning coffee, change your default pattern so you don’t get lost in hours of internet time. If you have to use the computer for work, take your computer elsewhere, like a coffee shop, to get yourself focused. Sometimes little changes like this can make you more productive.2. Bring in novel stimulation. For Kevin, going on trips is a natural stimulant and he gets more focused and more productive ON the trip and afterward. He finds he can get more work done when he’s away from home, where his computer is waiting for him.
3. Get support. Talk about your problem with others. Most have feelings of shame over their addictive behaviors and talking it out with others who understand can help by peeling back the blanket of denial and hiding behaviors.
4. Ask yourself what your dreams and passions are. Would you like to be a writer? A professional speaker? How does your internet use impact your ability to live your dreams?
6. We talked about visual reminders: put a post- it on your computer with trigger sayings to help you avoid or spend less time on it, i.e. “Are you Living your Dream?” “Are you being the mother you want to be?”
7. Make sure you’re optimally treated (with meds if your doctor prescribed it). Oftentimes, heavy internet usage is seen when meds wear off. Your doc may suggest an extra dosage later in the day or even early evening to help you manage your impulsive need to be online.
8. Think of other activities you can be doing instead. Ask yourself: what will make me feel better RIGHT NOW: going on Facebook or finishing that paper I started to write for work?
The Queens shared their specific challenges relating to being online and most found that social media was the biggest challenge. Others said shopping online was the big draw.
How about you? Do you spend too much time online? What do you do and how do you curb your behavior? Share your thoughts below in the Comment section.
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