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How to Avoid Too Much Internet Time

Five Tips for Students to Control Their Internet Use


Updated September 16, 2011

Written or reviewed by a board-certified physician. See About.com's Medical Review Board.

Students are one of the highest risk groups for internet addiction. Like any addictive behavior, it is much easier to avoid addiction by practicing good preventative strategies before you find you are overusing the internet than trying to cut down afterwards. However, if your internet use is already getting unmanageable, these tips will help you get you back on track.

1. Know the Symptoms of Internet Addiction

Too much internet time is just one aspect of computer addiction.  Knowledge is power, and knowing all the symptoms of internet addiction will enable you to evaluate your own online behavior and be aware of any symptoms that might be creeping up on you.

2. Monitor Your Own Internet Usage and Behavior

Internet addiction can start with peer pressure. When you see your friends doing the same things you are doing, you think your behavior is normal, so if your college friends are hyperconnected, it can feel like you should be constantly online.  And being away at college without the limits set by parents, an important element in preventing addiction in kids, is a time when addictive behaviors can become excessive.

So keep track of your internet behavior with my internet tracking form. Use the guidelines that come with it to evaluate your own internet behavior, not what you see or believe other students are doing.

3. Use a Variety of Information Sources for Study

With more and more e-books, electronic journals and online study aids, you can end up spending many hours of every day in front of a screen, studying.  But until quite recently, students studied entirely using books and journals, only occasionally supplemented with audio or video resources.

I have completed degrees using both approaches. In my experience, using traditional books and journals is a slower process--there is no cutting and pasting--but it is also one in which learning takes place on a deeper level. So whenever possible, sit down with a book and enjoy the deeper contemplation that can happen as you relax and absorb information from a page rather than a screen.

4. Use Social Networking to Supplement, Not Replace Real Relationships

Having 100 friends may be good for the ego, but it can destroy your social life if those friendships do not exist. Facebook can be a great way to connect with other people, but make sure that you use it as a convenient way of organizing real human contact.  Get together to socialize and study, and limit your social networking friends to people you actually do want to spend time with.

5. Learn Stress Management and Coping Skills

Leaving home and going away to college may be the most stressful lifestyle change you have ever experienced. Increasingly, students are studying while living at home with parents and even working full time. Student life is not the carefree escape from the real world it once was. And escaping the harsh reality of life is one of the main attractions of internet addiction.

Stress is a major factor in all addictions, including internet addiction. And although going online and escaping can feel like the easiest way of avoiding stress, it can actually make things worse. Learn relaxation skills, take regular exercise, learn assertiveness skills and build self esteem, so you are able to take on and cope with whatever the adult world throws at you.

6. *


Greenfield, D. "The Addictive Properties of Internet Usage. In Young, K. and Nabuco de Abreu, C. (Editors) Internet Addiction: A Handbook and Guide to Evaluation and Treatment. Hoboken, NJ: Wiley. p. 135-154. 2011.

Kwon, Jung-Hye. "Toward the Prevention of Adolescent Internet Addiction."  In Young, K. and Nabuco de Abreu, C. (Editors) Internet Addiction: A Handbook and Guide to Evaluation and Treatment. Hoboken, NJ: Wiley. p. 223-244. 2011.

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