App for Unplugging

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Over the past several years, I developed what seems to be an honest-to-goodness, real, awful addiction to social media.

Did you know social media addiction is (probably) a real thing? Social media sites are set up to “induce changes in some brain reward pathways that are similar to that seen in drug addiction” (or so says an article asking, “Are Frequent Internet Users Addicted? Their Symptoms Could Resemble Those of Drug Addiction”).

I wrote about this before. I deleted all social media apps off my phone. It worked, for a while. But what with Google saving the URLs for me, it became just as easy to get lost down the rabbit hole with a simple click on my phone’s web browser.

I finally downloaded an app called Offtime. You choose what apps you want to remain open during your offtime, and which apps you want to block yourself from. Then you click a fun little start button, and the app kicks you off every time you try to open a blocked app. “Now, now, now!” it might say. “That’s not really necessary, is it?”

It’s like having your no-nonsense mother helping you learn self-control all over again…except that it never sleeps, so you can’t sneak it under your bed covers after hours.

Do you use any apps or programs to regulate your internet usage? I’m still on the lookout for a good computer program!

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9 thoughts on “App for Unplugging

  1. Daniel Abbott

    I deleted all social media, including my blogs, this past spring. However, having watched, helplessly, while friends went through withdrawal from drugs and alcohol; I think a comparison between habitual use of the internet and drug addiction cheapens and trivializes drug addiction.

    Internet use is like chewing your nails, sucking your thumb, or swearing, all of which can be very difficult habits to break, but they don’t have the horrible withdrawal symptoms associated with breaking from an addiction to drugs or alcohol. The differences between a habit and a chemical dependence should not be trivialized.

    If you break your internet use habit, you won’t feel nauseous, you won’t have delusions of spiders crawling inside your skin, you won’t have hallucinations of snakes or demons, you won’t have sensations of burning, freezing or excruciating pain, you won’t perspire heavily, you won’t run a fever, you won’t have convulsions, you won’t die. You may be irritable, you may be unpleasant, you may have to try more than once.

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    • Bailey Steger

      That is a good point. I don’t think anyone, the research or myself, is suggesting that internet addiction is like drug addiction and its withdrawals; rather, there are notable similarities of how the internet affects the brain, even if the results are drastically different in seriousness.

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  2. Anna

    I use Freedom for controlling my internet usage. You have to pay for it, but for me it’s worth the $3/month to be able to use my time productively instead of wasting hours on Facebook, Buzzfeed, etc—things I know to be truly meaningless but can’t seem to keep myself away from! I previously used the free Chrome extension StayFocusd, which is also really nice, but you can always just turn it off. Freedom has a “locked” mode, which I haven’t found a way of getting around yet—better for those all-too-frequent moments when I’m completely lacking in self-control. :P

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