Last updated: 11/1/2018
Author: Addictions.com Medical Review
Reading Time: 4 minutes
Does someone you know spend too much time on the computer? While spending time on the computer can be a very productive process if it’s time well spent, there are many cases in which excessive time spent on the computer embarks upon a more challenging battle; one that many have come to know as computer addiction. Fortunately, there are many ways to stop computer addiction either through treatment, self-help or similar methods.
Whether you are trying to stop your own computer addiction, you are trying to help a loved one stop their addiction to computer use or you are setting guidelines to ensure that you prevent computer addiction in your teen before it’s too late, these methods of keeping control of computer use can help to nix the problem.
Determine Why Computer Use is so Desirable
According to the University of Texas at Dallas, the first step to stopping computer addiction is to determine what it is that makes the use of the computer so desirable. You may be struggling with depression or anxiety, you may feel safer or more comfortable interacting online or you may use the computer as an escape. Recognizing the underlying problems in your life that have led to an increased use of the computer can help to stop the problem. You may need medical treatment for a mental illness or for anxiety or you may need to seek psychological counseling to alleviate social phobias—either of these conditions can be the cause of excessive computer use.
Develop Coping Skills
Many people turn to drugs or alcohol as a method of coping with stress or other emotions such as anger. You may find that you or a loved one regularly turns to the computer as a coping mechanism. Blowing off steam online either through gaming, socializing or otherwise spending time on the computer could be taking away from time well spent coping with the problem at hand. To stop computer addiction, find a new way to alleviate stress such as by exercising, talking with a friend or family member in person or taking part in an active hobby away from the computer.
Limit Time Spent on the Computer
In order to reduce the risk of computer addiction or to help stop the addiction, limit the amount of time that is spent on the computer. You may want to use a stop watch or timer to alert you when you have exceeded your time on the computer. Set the timer for an hour, half an hour or whatever amount of time you plan to spend on the computer and make a commitment to stop using the computer as soon as the timer goes off.
Avoid Computer Use for Recreation
You may find that you have to use the computer for work but this doesn’t mean that you HAVE to use the computer for recreational purposes. If you find that you consistently use the computer to shop online, play games or socialize, make a commitment to stop this use and adhere to the commitment. Instead of shopping online, go shopping with friends or family. Instead of playing a game online, make a commitment to play a board game with family or spend quality time with a loved one.
Replace Computer Use
Instead of spending unnecessary time on the computer, replace that time spent on the computer with a healthy activity. Take part in a hobby that you used to enjoy, take up a new hobby or make plans to have friend over. Spending time socializing in the real world rather than spending the time online is almost always healthier and conducive to stopping computer addiction.
Use the Computer as a Tool
If you find that you keep turning to the computer for things other than to work, make a commitment to use the computer only as a tool. If you MUST use the computer, use if sparingly and ALWAYS set a timer. As you find yourself involved in other activities and timing your computer use you will realize that it becomes easier to cut back and to stop your addictive or compulsive use of the computer.
You may have to make efforts to take baby steps in the right direction. For instance, it may be best if you don’t commit to making all of the above changes at once. Instead, stop your computer addiction by accepting each behavioral change one at a time. Week one, you may want to time computer use. Week two, consider reducing this time. Week three, make a commitment only to use the computer for work. Week four, reduce the time spent on the computer even further.
By allowing yourself to adjust this is similar to tapering off a drug. You will gradually adjust to the changes and it will not seem like such a shock all at once when you decide it’s time to stop computer addiction once and for all.