Each month TechAddiction will post a new tip, piece of advice, or thought on overcoming computer addiction, video game addiction, or internet addiction.
For the latest advice, information, and for LOTS of detailed articles on video game addiction, stopping online addiction and helping teenagers and children addicted to computer games, be sure to visit the Information Centre:
This month's tip is...
Set limits on allowed online or video game time
An important strategy in recovering from video game addiction, computer game addiction, or internet addiction is to set specific limits for allowable time and use.
Many people who are addicted to computer games or the internet find themselves playing or logging on at the first available opportunity. Common "danger" periods include:
Immediately upon returning home from school or work
Immediately after dinner in the early evening
Late at night when other family members are sleeping
After you have identified your danger periods (you may find it helpful to keep track of your daily use with this downloadable form), you have to answer three main questions:
1) Am I working towards moderation or abstinence? Abstinence is generally considered best for WoW addiction, pornography addiction, and for most games classified as MMORPGs.
2) If I am working towards moderation, how many hours per day / per week are reasonable? You may want to get a second opinion from a trusted friend or family member.
3) What times of day are the "safest" and most responsible periods for use?
There is no magical time of day or permitted length of time that works for everyone. For example:
A 7-year old may be permitted 1.5 hours of play on Saturday and Sunday mornings.
A 15 year old may be permitted 1 hour of use during weeknights after homework and other responsibilities have been attended to. Perhaps this is extended to 2 hours per day on the weekend.
A single 20-year old student may allow himself to play in the evenings 10:00 - 11:30 after studying.
A married man with children may schedule 1 hour of play in the evenings from 10:00 - 11:00 only after the children are asleep.
You may notice a few common themes in the examples above:
1) Scheduled video game and internet time happens only after other more important responsibilities are taken care of (e.g., studying, work, family, etc.)
2) Two hours per day of recreational internet or video game play is a general limit for most adults and older teens. One hour per day for children and 1.5 hours per day for younger teens can be thought of as age-appropriate guidelines.
In order to break excessive online or video game habits, you will most likely need to introduce additional structure into your schedule. For parents with children addicted to video games, this structure obviously has to be externally enforced (i.e., clear rules on allowable times).
However, for adults with a video game or internet addiction, the motivation to create this structure and not exceed self-imposed limits has to come from within. That is, it requires dedication and self-control. If you set aside 10:00 - 11:00 PM as your only permitted time for play, you need to stick to this time.
If necessary, take extra steps to help you keep to this schedule (e.g., a timer next to the computer, allow a family member to remind you to quit, schedule your computer or game console to turn off at a specific time, etc.).
PS: There is much more to overcoming video game or internet addiction than just this one tip. Visit the Information Centre for dozens of articles on computer and video game addiction.
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