I knew I had a problem with the Internet the night I found myself feverishly Googling, “Internet addiction symptoms,” checking Wikipedia to see if my actions were ironic, and then following link after link before passing out.

While it’s easy to laugh at my lack of self-control, I’m not the only one spending a serious amount of time surfing the web. Canadians spend 41 hours per month online, visiting an average of 120 sites per day. That’s a lot of time spent mindlessly clicking links.

Several studies suggest that people who spend a lot of time online are more likely to show signs of depression. One reported that depressed people use the Internet differently. They may be more likely to repeatedly check email, watch a lot of videos and frequently shift their attention from one application to another.

Going on an Internet fast will reduce your time spent online—temporarily. A better solution is to become aware of your habitual usage patterns so you can choose to use the Internet more mindfully. An adapted version of the Nourishing/Depleting Activities record can help you do just that.

You can use technology to help you stick with your changes instead of fighting against it. You might try:

  • Ÿ  setting your phone to chime on the hour to remind you to check in with the present
  • Ÿ  setting your desktop background to change to alert you to the passage of time
  • Ÿ  turning off email alerts to avoid constantly visiting your inbox (this really worked for me)
  • Ÿ  turning off push notifications on your phone/tablet

The following browser extensions can keep track of the time you spend online and restrict or block your access to time-wasting sites:

Chrome: Stayfocusd, Nanny for Google Chrome

Firefox: LeechBlock, Mind the Time


Naomi Eaton