How to Overcome Computer Addiction

Three Parts:Avoiding Computer UsageFinding Other Ways to Spend Your TimeSeeking Treatment for Computer Addiction

Computer addiction is becoming increasingly common as more and more people have access to personal computers. Computer usage can be useful and productive, but if you’re a computer addict it can have serious effects on many parts of your life. Luckily, there are ways to overcome computer addiction without cutting computers out of your life completely. Doing this will often take self discipline as well as support from others, and sometimes professional help.

Part 1
Avoiding Computer Usage

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    Limit your time on the computer. This may seem difficult at first, but it’s the first step to recovering from computer addiction. Remember that you don’t need to stop using the computer altogether, just set reasonable limits for now.[1]
    • You can set a limit by setting a timer. When it goes off, close and turn off your computer. Walk away and go do something else.
    • You can ask family, friends, or roommates to help you enforce the limit. They might take the computer away from you for designated periods of time or make sure you’re staying away from it during designated hours.
    • Ask friends or family how much time they think is reasonable for you to spend on the computer each day. Try to limit your computer time to two hours or less.
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    Only use the computer for necessary tasks. You may need the computer for work or for school. If this is the case, use the computer as much as you need to for those particular applications. Otherwise, put it away.[2]
    • You can uninstall programs that aren’t necessary to your work, such as games or software for entertainment.
    • You can ask friends or family to set a password or “parental controls” to block you from accessing websites or programs that aren’t related to your work.
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    Limit where you can use the computer. Depending on the nature of your computer addiction, you may benefit from limiting where you use the computer. For example, if you only use the computer in a public place, you may refrain from behaviors that are easier to do in private, such as cybersex, online gambling, or watching movies.[3]
    • You can commit to only using the computer in the kitchen, at the library, in a coffee shop, or at a friend’s house.
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    Keep a computer usage diary. Write down the dates, times, and duration of your computer usage. Also write down the way you were feeling before, during and after each session of computer use.[4]
    • By writing down your feelings before a computer session, you can help identify things that trigger your computer usage.
    • Once you’ve identified the triggers, you can avoid them to help avoid computer use.
    • If avoiding the triggers is impossible, you can choose another activity to replace computer usage.
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    Create a plan for modifying your behavior. Overcoming an addiction isn’t easy, and it requires a plan. You may try a simple plan, such as quitting cold turkey; however, it’s more likely that a slower, more methodical plan will be successful for computer addiction.[5]
    • Establish how much and how often you’d like to continue using the computer.
    • Establish what kinds of activities are acceptable to continue doing on the computer.
    • Create a calendar for overcoming your addiction. You may want to wean yourself off of the computer by using it for one hour less per day each week.

Part 2
Finding Other Ways to Spend Your Time

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    Get some exercise. Exercise can be a great way to get away from the computer. It keeps your body healthy and releases endorphins, which are hormones that make you feel good.[6]
    • Try something that might compare to the things you enjoy on the computer. For example, if you enjoy computer games that involve exploring new places, try going for a hike in the woods.
    • If you like computer games that you play with other people, try playing a team sport.
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    Try a new hobby. Take up a creative pursuit such as music or art. If you're unsure where to begin you could sign up for a class. You can also ask friends to do the activity with you if you don't want to do it alone.[7]
    • If you like doing design work on the computer, you might enjoy an art class.
    • If you use the computer to read and learn about the world, try going to a museum or a lecture.
    • If you do a lot of online shopping, head downtown or to the local mall.
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    Find new styles of entertainment. If you like playing games online, try playing board games with friends or at your local game store. If you like watching movies on your computer, go to the move theater to see a film instead.[8]
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    Spend time with friends. Choose friends who have a healthy relationship to the computer. Make plans to spend time together out of the house, doing things that don’t involve or require computers.[9]
    • If you want to play games together, play board games or games outdoors.
    • If you want to watch a film, go to your local movie theater.
    • You can also prepare meals together or go to a restaurant, take a walk, or even listen to music on a CD or record player.

Part 3
Seeking Treatment for Computer Addiction

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    Recognize symptoms of computer addiction. It’s not always easy to know if you’re indeed addicted to the computer. You may simply want to use the computer less than you do. However, the degree of your addiction will likely affect how difficult it is to quit or cutback on your computer usage. Symptoms of computer addiction include:[10]
    • Preoccupation with the Internet, including social media presence and future online activity
    • Becoming moody, restless, or depressed when unable to use the computer
    • Computer usage negatively affecting significant relationships, family life, or work life
    • Using the computer to escape from real life problems or difficult emotional states
    • Spending significantly more time on the computer than intended
    • Concealing the extent of your computer usage from family and friends
    • Needing to be on the computer to feel satisfied
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    Join a support group. There are support groups all over for people suffering from computer addiction. These groups do not cost money to attend and can connect you with other people who are experiencing the same thing that you are.[11]
    • Look for a group that meets in person, if possible. If you need to use the computer to access an online group, you may end up using the computer more than you intend to.
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    Seek counseling. Find a local therapist who can work with you on your computer addiction. You may want to begin private therapy sessions or to join a therapy group for people struggling with computer addiction.[12]
    • Some therapists accept medical insurance.
    • Online directories can help you find local therapist who specializes in addiction.
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    Get support from people in your life. Talk to the people in your life about your addiction. Let them know that you’re concerned about your own behavior and would like their support in working on changing it.[13]
    • You can ask loved ones to help you monitor your computer usage. You can say, "I'm worried that I'm addicted the the computer. Would you be willing to keep an eye on my behavior and step in if you see me getting sucked into it?"
    • You can ask loved ones to spend quality time with you as a way of keeping you engaged in non-computer activities. You can say, "I want to find positive ways to spend my time that don't involve the computer. Can we prioritize spending quality time together without the computer? We could go for a walk one a week or eat dinner together every night."
    • Ask loved ones not to engage you in computer-related activities while you’re working on recovery. You can say, "I know you don't have problems with your own computer usage, but I'm really struggling with my own. Would you mind not using the computer around me so much, or at least not asking me to engage with you while you're using it?"

Article Info

Categories: Addictions | Computers and Electronics