Struggling with problematic Internet use

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AnalyticalEngine
Posts: 242
Joined: Sun Sep 02, 2018 11:57 am

Struggling with problematic Internet use

Post by AnalyticalEngine »

Has anyone else here struggled with problematic Internet use? That is, where your Internet habits start to impact your "real" life. How did you curb the habit?

In my case, the problem is both quality and quantity. I've been using an app called Rescue Time for a few years now. It tracks how you spend time on both your phone and PC. Using this app, a typical week of screen time for me ranges from 30-40 hours. I might spend 10 hours on a chat app, 10 hours on social media etc.

What's bad about this is not only is that a ton of time for personal screen use (this does not include work), I feel like this negatively impacts my mental health. I'll often think about whatever I saw online even when offline, which causes anxiety/depression and also distracts me even more from "real life."

I've tried countless times to quit but I ALWAYS fail. We're talking years of attempting to scale back. And while I'm "high functioning" enough, I can say years of problematic Internet use has limited my life.

The root issue I believe is boredom. It's not just "wow this meeting sucks boredom." More like "this boredom is so painful I feel like crying" boredom.

Has anyone else experienced this? What have you done to scale back?

Frita
Posts: 346
Joined: Thu Mar 15, 2018 8:43 pm

Re: Struggling with problematic Internet use

Post by Frita »

Could you take a trip without electronics and/or cell/WiFi access? It might help to reset. The best way to reduce or stop a behavior is to find a substitute.

AnalyticalEngine
Posts: 242
Joined: Sun Sep 02, 2018 11:57 am

Re: Struggling with problematic Internet use

Post by AnalyticalEngine »

Funny enough, traveling is the one thing that's helped. My PC is a desktop, and I don't own a laptop. All my social media passwords are super long random strings written in a password book, and I don't bring the book, so I can't log in. I'm usually so busy traveling that I don't even miss it.

It's more when I'm home and surrounded by the daily habit cues and more susceptible to boredom that it becomes a problem.

AxelHeyst
Posts: 116
Joined: Thu Jan 09, 2020 4:55 pm
Location: The Mountains, USA

Re: Struggling with problematic Internet use

Post by AxelHeyst »

I've struggled with this for years.

Something like freedom.to really helped me. You install it on all your devices, and then you can make it deactivate certain websites (or all of them) on a schedule, or just "for the next 90 minutes" or whatever you decide. I used to get in to youtube holes from 8pm till 3am, this solved that.

My long term plan is to FIRE and then not have an internet or cell data plan, and need to go to public wifi to access the internet.

daylen
Posts: 1441
Joined: Wed Dec 16, 2015 4:17 am

Re: Struggling with problematic Internet use

Post by daylen »

Hold on, there is a "real life"? :?

AnalyticalEngine
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Joined: Sun Sep 02, 2018 11:57 am

Re: Struggling with problematic Internet use

Post by AnalyticalEngine »

As I saw it put recently, "The Internet used to be an escape from real life. Now real life is an escape from the Internet." :lol: :?

I do want to get on top of this before I quit FT work. My worst nightmare is retiring to a life of Internet. It's the one thing that made me rethink going jobfree if I can't even manage my time now.

Toska2
Posts: 313
Joined: Fri Nov 20, 2015 8:51 pm

Re: Struggling with problematic Internet use

Post by Toska2 »

I did multiple things. I got rid of my computer. Moved where there is no cell phone service. Put together a nice woodshop. Started building things.

My next phase is to build wooden machines. Bushings, pulleys and gears and wheels.

I took away the ability and focus.

Peanut
Posts: 459
Joined: Sat Feb 14, 2015 2:18 pm

Re: Struggling with problematic Internet use

Post by Peanut »

You could try to reduce your access and therefore usage forcibly, somehow. I'm not tech savvy but I imagine there are many ways to program your devices so that they shut you out after a certain amount of time, for example. Then you need to develop interests in doing other things. Get outside, attend meetups, etc.

One other thing to consider. To make my kids less interested in what's happening on my phone, I set it to black-and-white. It worked with them and it works for the user too. The colors are visually stimulating and part of what keeps us plugged in.

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Stahlmann
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Re: Struggling with problematic Internet use

Post by Stahlmann »


sky
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Re: Struggling with problematic Internet use

Post by sky »

I am also struggling with internet screen time. The winter weather is part of the problem, I don't want to go outside. The related problem is sedentary lifestyle which is a big health risk. When the weather improves, I can go for walks. I have considered breaking from my normal life and eliminating devices and internet, but I don't think that is going to happen.

We had a power outage and it was almost a relief not to be connected for 8 hours.

bigato
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Joined: Sat Mar 05, 2011 12:43 pm

Re: Struggling with problematic Internet use

Post by bigato »

This seems to be one of these cases where the solution lies outside the domain of the perceived symptoms, thus taking years to understand if you ever do. I've been there when I first acquired a used playstation 2 when the 3 was released. More than 15 years ago I think. I would start playing on the friday night after work and spend the weekend playing with close to no sleep, stopping only for basic necessities and to go to work on monday morning. What I did was the most obvious at the time, I just got rid of it because I couldn't deal with it in a healthy way. Stuff like this can get quite ugly by the way. Like a case I read where the guy would wear diapers so that he wouldn't need to stop to poop and pee.

Did I solve the problem by getting rid of the console though? Not really. By around that time I also had problems with internet usage by the way. I even went without it for a couple of times. Only years later, when I had a newer xbox, I could see that I was not affected by that addiction anymore, at all. What changed? I changed, a lot of things in my life changed. Hard to pinpoint exactly now. What I can tell you for sure was that it was nothing related to internet usage per se nor the videogames.

GandK
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Joined: Mon Sep 19, 2011 1:00 pm

Re: Struggling with problematic Internet use

Post by GandK »

I've had good results with (on a phone) setting the display to black and white instead of color.

If that's not an option, can you get hold of an app that limits Internet usage?

ertyu
Posts: 601
Joined: Sun Nov 13, 2016 2:31 am

Re: Struggling with problematic Internet use

Post by ertyu »

When I've had similar struggles, I haven't been able to give them up overnight except through forced restraint where I have no choice but not to do the thing. "Rehab," if you will. E.g. the only thing that worked to restrain my unnecessary spending on take-out was to uninstall all apps and disconnect them and turn off mobile banking so I can't download them again. With time, you'll develop alternatives. Probably the most beneficial effect of this rehab approach will be that you will get to face exactly what needs you are trying to meet through the undesirable behavior. Oftentimes, we know - e.g. in my case it wasn't rocket science that I am miserable at my job and I was reaching for comfort at the expense of future me.

You might choose not to quit screen time completely, but just to make a plan about what you want to be doing and why. I would advise not to make the goal to "quit" but to learn - learn about what exactly about screen time that you're attracted to, what it is you're escaping from, how exactly does it feel to choose not to engage in the habit, how exactly it feels to engage in a couple of different substitute behaviors. Whatever comes out of that, it's something you need to face and deal with.

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