Every day, many of us spend countless hours and devote a lot of mental attention to what we see on the Internet. While much of this time can be useful, functional, practical and enjoyable (read this article now online, right?), Many aspects of this online trend are not useful to us or are really bad for us.
As a psychologist, I've seen online behaviors become more and more part of what my clients want to face while they are in treatment. For example, I often hear how people's phone use habits negatively affect emotional intimacy with people in their real life. Others describe how control over the positions of others in social media has had negative consequences for their self-esteem. Some people report difficulty in focusing or meeting deadlines due to the time they have been "wasted" on the internet.
In a survey by the Pew Research Center in 2018, 8% of adolescents say they often lose focus on school because they distract their smartphones. The survey also found that 15% of parents report reduced work attention. Over 36% of parents and 54% of teenagers think they spend a lot of time on their mobile phone.
It is easy enough for any of us to experience these issues. It is important to recognize and when internet use is causing problems and to recognize that it does not have to be this way. For those who want to address their concerns and develop a healthier relationship with their online behaviors, I have compiled the following indicators.
Develop your self-awareness about your online behavior
Addressing your electronic habits requires a fair sincerity with yourself. You should consider how you usually make decisions about online activities and think about how you feel about these activities. First, check with yourself to get a better grip on what's going on and what does not work for you. Here are some questions to ask yourself:
- When and how often are you connected each day?
- What kind of things are you doing online?
- What activities cause you to waste time?
- Are you distracting online by hindering your productivity?
- Do your online activities affect your life at home or in your social life?
- Do you control your online behavior?
- What is your mood usually like when you go to the internet, and it changes after you have connected to the internet?
As you look at these questions, you may notice an effect on your online behavior that you have never seen before. Are there any patterns you see that you want to change?
Consider the purpose of your online behavior
Once you recognize your online behavior, it may be easier to recognize the emotional impact that behavior has on your life. This emotional impact may vary from day to day or between different situations. For example, more than half (56%) of teenagers in the Pew Survey report feel anxious, lonely or upset when they think they will not have their cell phone with them. These are powerful emotions. Can you report this?
Here are questions to ask yourself:
- Go online to avoid something else you have to do or feel scary?
- Are you trying to calm down or regain your feelings?
- Do you tend to go online to feel better?
- Does this response strategy serve you now?
Change your environment
Now that you have a better understanding of the role the Internet has in your life, you are better prepared to make the changes you want to see. Your probable motivation to do this has also increased.
It is more likely to adopt and maintain behavior change when we are courteous to ourselves throughout the process.Many of the strategies for making changes include changing your behavior. You can experiment with any number of rules or reward systems. For example, you can re-configure your computer and phone to be less prone to distractions. This may mean that you block push and other automatic notifications for your apps. You may try to block or hide access to apps or sites that distract you. You could also close your email accounts when you are not using them. There are currently many products available for tracking online use.
Switching to the internet is often a necessity in modern life and there are unlimited distractions when we go online. It may be so simple to fall into motifs that do not serve us well. But instead of looking at these behaviors with self-criticism, try concentrating. It is more likely to adopt and maintain behavior change when we are courteous to ourselves throughout the process.
It is ok that you have fallen into these patterns. You have the power to change them. When you find something that does not work for you, think about what you prefer to see instead. Understand that anything that was not working for you can serve as a guide for you in the future.
If you want support during this process, you may want to find a therapist. Treatment is a safe place for crisis-free help.
Jiang, Jingjing. (2018 August 22). How teens and parents are browsing the screen time and distractions of the device. Pew Research Center. Retrieved from http://www.pewinternet.org/2018/08/22/how-teens-and-parents-navigate-screen-time-and-device-distractions
© Copyright 2018 GoodTherapy.org. All rights reserved. The publication authorization was granted by Marni Amsellem, PhD, a therapist at Trumbull in Connecticut
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