Cyber addiction is hard to combat because technology is an integral part of our daily lives. Since we canít live without logging on in cyberspace, use the following tips to manage cyber addiction and move your spouse toward a healthier balance of cyber and real life activities:
*Assess your real life satisfaction level. Most cyber addicts use cyberspace as an escape from real world stresses including depression, anxiety and social/relationship problems. Cyber addicts also commonly struggle with other types of addictions like alcohol, drugs and carnality. If you find areas of your life troubling, seek counseling instead of escaping into cyberspace which will only worsen problems and delay treatment.
*Be aware of time spent in cyber world. Log your hours so you can see how much time is lost to computer games and Internet surfing. A few hours after dinner can lead to an eight-hour nightly ritual. It isnít unusual for people to spend more time in cyber world than they do at the office. My husband was shocked to realize that he played World of Warcraft for over an average of 40 hours a week. That was like having a second full-time job!
*Set time limits. Learning to moderate the cyber indulgence is a good long-term solution. Program a timer for a pre-determined amount of time that youíll allow yourself to play or surf. Once the alarm rings, log off immediately and switch activities, preferably to another equally enjoyable activity.
*Use site controls and locks. If particular websites are tempting, install site controls and locks that make it harder to access them. Sure, you can bypass the codes yourself, but sometimes, all it takes a little time delay for your good senses to kick in and resist.
*Have virtual life boundaries. Be sure nothing is secret from your spouse. If you live a virtual life, be sure your spouse agrees to the terms. And be forewarned that an emotional affair carries all the risk and hurts of a physical affair, if not more.
*Carefully note both of your cyber activities. Maybe he's not playing Solitaire for ten hours a day. Not all Internet time is a waste. Learning doesnít have to be formal or result in a diploma. Thereís a lot of great and useful information available at the click of a mouse. Just be sure that the information gained enhances real life. For example, try learning a new language free online, discovering a new recipe for a foreign ingredient or exchanging heirloom vegetable seeds with a fellow gardening enthusiast.
*Engage in other pleasurable pursuits. Cyber addiction is easy to fall into because it is a passive activity like clicking the remote control for television watching. Set up an area of your home with all the supplies you need to pick up another favorite hobby or activity. Put your heads together with your mate to choose a joint activity that youíll both enjoy.
*Be aware of the results of your time, on or offline. One motivation that kept me from engaging in too much Internet surfing was realizing that when I logged off, I had nothing to show for that time. If I added up a monthís worth of Internet surfing time, I could have completed several projects or made headway on other goals. Leisure time is productive in and of itself when relaxation is the goal, but be clear of your intentions.
Internet critics point to cyber addiction as proof of the evils of the World Wide Web, but that is like saying eating is bad for you because candy can rot your teeth. I love the media, especially the Internet, for the knowledge and connections it provides for the world. Be a savvy Internet user by making conscientious choices and help those in your home to do the same.