Using the Internet for homework and for fun is common and normal. But, when your time online takes away from homework, time with friends and family or other things you enjoy, it’s called Internet addiction. Learn tips to cut down on the time you spend online or on mobile apps.

What is internet addiction?

Internet addiction is when you gradually (over time) lose control over how often you limit, avoid or control the amount of time you spend on the Internet. This can also include mobile apps.

For teens who have Internet addiction, going online releases endorphins (brain chemicals that trigger feelings of pleasure). This makes it very hard to control or limit how much time you spend online.

What are the effects of internet addiction?

Internet addiction is similar to other types of addictions because it interrupts your real-life relationships with friends and family. Time away from real-life relationships can cause you to be socially awkward because you haven’t practiced your social skills with real people.

Internet addiction can also cause:

  • Insomnia (not sleeping well)
  • Not showering or keeping up with personal hygiene
  • Not eating regularly
  • Headaches and backaches
  • Dry eyes from looking at a screen for a long time
  • Carpal tunnel syndrome (numbness or tingling in your hand and arm)

How can I beat my internet addiction?

  • If you think you have an Internet addiction, talk with your doctor or your parents. They can help you come up with ways to beat your Internet addiction.
  • Pay attention to when you use the Internet or mobile apps. If you’re using the Internet or mobile apps for homework or work, that’s okay. If your time online is taking away from friends, family and other things you enjoy, it’s time to unplug.
  • Turn off or silence notifications for email, games and social media. You will be less tempted to check if you can’t hear the notifications.
  • Use a free app to track your Internet usage. Some apps we suggest include:
    • Break Free Cell Phone Addiction®. This app lets you track and take control of how much you use the Internet or mobile apps. It also has timers that let you set how much time you spend online and tools to help you break free from Internet addiction. You can also share your accomplishments with others from the app.
    • Quality Time – My Digital Diet®. This app lets you track your Internet and app usage. It also lets you set your own time limits and breaks.
    • Screen Time Companion®. This app works with the Screen Time Parental Control® app. Your family decides how long you can spend on different apps and the Internet. You can also track your Internet and app usage.
  • Do something you enjoy that doesn’t involve the Internet. Play a sport or get outside. Read a book, draw or paint. Spend time with friends and family. Cook a healthy meal or take your dog for a walk.
  • Talk to others about Internet addiction. Ask others about ways they have cut down on time spent online. This builds a relationship and trust between you and the other person.

A note for your parents

Doctors aren’t sure what causes Internet addiction in teens. But, teens are more likely to have an Internet addiction if they are anxious, depressed, have low self-esteem, a poor self-image or have attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

You can help your teen beat his/her Internet addiction by supervising how much time your teen spends online or on their smartphone or tablet. Use an app like Screen Time Parental Control® to track and set limits on your teen’s time online.

Rev. 8/2016