Why You Need to Break Your Internet Addiction

Why You Need to Break Your Internet Addiction

When Sesame Street’s Cookie Monster is in pursuit of his beloved cookie fix, he’s a shaky, blubbering and grammatically-challenged blob of blue fur. Give him that cookie and he purrs. But once it’s gone, he begins his anxiety-driven quest for the next sweet treat.

Kind of like someone who’s addicted to technology, where the person is driven back online for one more tweet, one more like or one more bit of gossip—even if he or she would really rather be doing something else.

Sound familiar? If so, you’re one of the folks that researchers have identified as being negatively affected by your interactions with the Internet. It seems that, for some, disconnection from digital connections can trigger increased heart rate and elevated blood pressure. And, according to the study in PLOS ONE, such physical changes can be associated with anxiety, and alterations to hormones that can reduce immune responses.

The study also suggests such increases in anxiety are similar to withdrawal symptoms seen for alcohol, cannabis and heroin. And that’s why some folks feel compelled to re-engage with their devices, even if it interferes with sleep, relationships, work and time for exercise.

If this describes you, here’s how to break free of the compulsion:

  1. Keep a weeklong diary of how much not-work-related time you spend on the Internet. Understanding behavior patterns is the first step to changing them.
  2. No tablets, phones or other digital devices in the bedroom.
  3. Turn off your device when having family dinners, spending time with your kids or getting some “us time” with your honey.

Medically reviewed in March 2020.

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