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Addicted to the internet?

A new addiction being added to the books that triggers the brain just like cocaine & alcohol: Internet Use Disorder. This is being added to Medical Journals this year. They are defining the addiction as a person being online more than 38 hours a week. This is not including work online.

The studies show there is a dopamine spike when these newly identified addicts are getting online. Dopamine is a chemical released when addicts return to their substance. The internet, in this case, is becoming a substitute for four cravings of most people.

Excitement
This is the new and what they don’t want to miss out on. It could be a Facebook post, an email, sports score, news on a someone of popularity or even the latest insight to the new technology emerging.

Novelty
They are searching for things to identify with being unique.

Risk
While some find it in outdoor activities, internet addicts are pushing the risks online. Through gaming, sexuality, or exploration. The online gaming takes this to a new world, literally, by creating levels that take the imagination to unreal levels.

Connection
Instead of finding connection face to face, addicts are substituting this need with screen time. It might be a fantasy character they create or even a relationship that is computer generated.

In a early podcast, Tim Elmore gives some steps to break or or keep the internet from becoming an addiction. His steps are practical and help create healthy boundaries on our lives.

Whether you are wanting to guard your children, yourself, or break a habit, these helpful insights will serve you well.

Go outside. And I would add, without your internet enabled device. Find excitement, adventure, risk, and creative stimulus outdoors.

Serve others.
Find a need and meet it. This can create risk, excitement, connection, and be in a unique, novelty, way.

Technology reduces our empathy. Finding someone to serve can engage more than just pictures on the screen or words that are posted. It engages a different part of our emotions. You won’t know what I mean until you engage. So just engage.

Take mini tech fasts.
Decide, as a family, or as a single, to not look at the phone or tablet/computer while eating dinner. I dare you to try! It might be hard. You might find yourself reaching for your phone but resist the urge. Leave it in the bedroom or place it intentionally in a drawer.

Maybe decide to take a walk without your phone or go for a drive without. Trust me, you don’t need the phone all the time. That Facebook post can wait.

Equalize screen time with outdoors and face to face.
For as many hours you are recreationally online match it with outdoor time or with another person “in the flesh.”

You will be amazed at how many people skills can be generated when you are face to face and not thumb to thumb with a person. I believe this is a major skill that is loosing attention today.

These great practical actions can keep you from becoming a medical journal entry.