Time to come clean: Let’s talk about Internet addiction.

The Lord knows that I’m not the sharpest tool in the shed, so when He wants me to learn something, he hands it to me in small, digestible pieces . . .  EVERYwhere I turn for days and weeks, even months at a time.  (He’s really so patient while He waits for me to get it.)  I will give an inventory of his subtle messages just in the last 10 days or so.

  1. Elder Bradley Foster in General Conference:  ” . . . a distraction doesn’t have to be evil to be effective.”
  2. Sister Julie Beck:  “There is much distraction and not enough peace and joy. . . But with personal revelation, [a mother] can prioritize correctly and navigate this life confidently. . . . mothers can feel help from the Spirit even when tired, noisy children are clamoring for attention,  . . . Being in the right places allows us to receive guidance. It requires a conscious effort to diminish distractions, but having the Spirit of revelation makes it possible to prevail over opposition and persist in faith through difficult days and essential routine tasks.”
  3. Elder Robert D. Hales:  “Mother, Father, are you in there? Grandpa, Grandma, are you there? Being there means understanding the hearts of our youth and connecting with them. And connecting with them means not just conversing with them but doing things with them too. . . . I would hope that we would bear our testimonies so that our children will know where our hearts are and that we love them. The greatest love and the greatest teachings should be in our homes.”
  4. My house needs attention.  When I resurface from the office and look around at the messes, I know my time could have been better spent.
  5. A friend gave a wonderful talk at church about time management that really resonated with me.  (Hi, SP!)
  6. I remembered this post that I wrote almost seven months ago, (and it was a good one) but it’s a lesson I still have not completely learned.
  7. I stumbled upon this post.
  8. I caught myself having only half-attentive phone conversations because I was trying to read email at the same time.
  9. I want to start exercising regularly again, but I  feel like there’s not enough time in the day.  Why is that?  (pause for burning self-reflection)

Tell me I’m not the only one who sees some of myself in this cartoon.
I don’t even own all those gadgets, but still. At some level, there’s a sad truth in there.

I’m pretty good at monitoring my children’s screen time, but when I get online, it’s kind of a chain reaction of “tasks*” and before I know it, I’m not proud of how much time I spent.

*Any blog comments?  I need to check email and see if they wrote me back about that fireside assignment.  Oh, let me see if Matt transferred my budget into my account yet.  And . . . a quick look at Reader to see if any blog friends have posted anything new.  Ha ha.  Better comment on that.  Okay, that’s good.  Before I sign off, I’m just going to check Facebook really quick.  I don’t think I’ve updated my status for several days.  Oh look, one of my old young women is engaged.   Check out her fiancee’s page to see if he’s a loser.  And all his photos.  Hey, he’s friends with a girl I taught at EFY; I wonder what she’s up to these days.  . . .  Oops, forgot to do my status.  Type-ity type type:  “Avoiding laundry.”  Check email ONE more time.  I don’t think I ever read that attachment that Shantel sent me yet.  Whoa, newsflash: there was an earthquake in Utah?  Better check that out.  And I forgot I wanted to look at the menu for our date night restaurant so I know how much to budget for dinner . . . .

I think you get the idea.

So I’m going to be proactive about this little, ahem, problem.  I found this link, and it reviews the top ten internet controls software.  These are programs that control not only content, but also let you set daily and weekly time limits for individual users, including YOURSELF:


It looked like this one was really good, but it doesn’t have a Mac version that I can see:  http://www.kidswatch.com/ I also found this one that has a Windows and Mac version:  http://www.netnanny.com/

And here’s a link for some free downloads for simple timers and filters.  (As with all free shareware, make sure you have a good anti-virus program in place, just in case.)


(A special note for my mother, mother-in-law, and any other concerned relatives:  Don’t worry.  I don’t spend all day on the Internet and I’m still feeding and bathing my children.  Really.  My life would just be a lot more efficient if I spent less time on the computer, so I’m working on it.)

And that’s it.  I’m just admitting my own willpower might not be enough to keep me constantly focused on the things that matter most, so I’m going to use tools and rules and accountability and such to help me.  And friends like you, who I’m betting will get this and will offer great advice.  So thanks.


24 thoughts on “Time to come clean: Let’s talk about Internet addiction.

  1. I am so with you on this. I’ve been so stressed out about finishing all the little projects and things around the house, and yet I still have time to be blogging/facebooking for an hour or two a day? Sometimes I find myself unconsciously drifting over to the computer when I really came downstairs to finish the dishes or something else. My computer is in a hutch that closes, and lately I’ve been closing it when I’m finished- that helps me to remember that I’m trying to be on the computer less!

    Ps- I made your recipe for salsa chicken and black bean soup last night. It was wonderful and my family loved it. I did make one change to it- to thicken it I added a can of refried beans. I was going to do the blender thing, but I will go to great lengths to avoid washing that thing!

  2. If I had to admit one major fault in my current life, this is it. I like the quote that said that distraction doesn’t have to be evil to be effective. I definitely don’t do or seek out anything evil on the Internet, but it’s amazing how addicting routine or even good, wholesome things can be when you feel like they are ever-changing and you need to keep up.

    Great reminder. I’ll still check you every day, but perhaps just not linger as long!

  3. WHAT!!!!! You haven’t opened that attachment I sent you!!??? Your fired! I will be having a “your fired” party soon with chocolate cake and some type of really fun thing that Mom’s with no kids hanging around like to do. Napping. OK Chocolate cake and napping. ;0)

  4. Yep, I totally get this, and I’m happy to say that I am (very slowly) starting to figure it out. I have been online less, and my amount of guilt is going down too. Thanks for the reminder.

  5. I love the thought process at the end there. At first I was like “exactly!” all surpris-edly. Then I realized that yeah, that’s probably how it is for all of us! You just wrote it out. It’s very helpful to read. I have found that an excellent cure for too much time on the computer is to have a newborn. You just can’t spend too much time in a stretch. But then the new problem becomes getting on a little more often, but still. So, yeah. Totally recommend having another one.

  6. It IS TV Turnoff Week this week. 🙂 I’m taking it as SCREEN Turnoff Week. (Starting tomorrow, since we’re telling the kids for FHE.) But yeah, starting tomorrow, I get 30 minutes a day and that’s it. (Just so I don’t miss any emails or whatever.) Other rules: the kids can watch as many CHURCH videos they want. But yeah, I totally get this post!

  7. Hi! (and I am pretty sure that I was given the assignment to speak on that subject because I spend way too much time on the interwebs. or reading. or doing crossword puzzles)(in my defense, I did get 75% of my visiting teaching done last week. I did not allow myself to make excuses as I have done for the past year plus)

    Lists work for me, at least for a little while. Children needing to use the computer for homework also help keep me off. My own guilt sometimes gets me off, but not often enough.

    Go Steph!

  8. I have a solution: decide to run a triathlon. Sure, you’ll become totally obsessed with exercising all the time and you’ll still neglect laundry, but it’ll keep you off the computer!

    What? I didn’t say it was a perfect solution…

    Seriously, though, I don’t think there is a perfect solution. Just a perfect moment. One that all of us have in which the light bulb clicks on and we do it (whatever it may be), not just say we’ll do it.

    Good luck.

  9. I like the idea of lists. My husband hogs the computer all day (really he works from home and is responsibly providing for our family) so I only get to use the internet when he is done. By then I have thought many times of things I better check or look up or whatever, but when I sit down at the computer, I have forgotten them. So I wander aimlessly through blogs and whatnot.

    A list will be good.

  10. I love the break down of your “tasks”! I am sooo the same. How I end up browsing through random people’s photos on facebook I will never know!

  11. I’ve gotten so much worse at this since I got my laptop. Now I can just plop down anywhere and check email, scan Facebook, read blogs, etc. My husband jokes about putting a timer on the Internet but I might just take him up on that!

  12. Thank you for posting this. Knowing I’m not alone (duh, Marisa) in this same problem helps me also be proactive in self-discipline!
    Mind sharing some notes on your friend’s time management talk?

  13. I am glad I am not alone. A good book sounds good about now, but I am to involved with everyone else’s lives to worry about my own. Sad to say that the distractions are what enable me to avoid the things in my life that matter most. While studying Julie Becks talk last week I realized how much of my life revolves around facebook-email-blogs. I know some have addictions to shopping, my addiction is to see how everyone else is doing–what is going on in their lives so that I don’t need to think about the issues in my own life. Much to think about–much to learn.

    Thanks Steph–it is good to know that good people struggle with things that aren’t evil.

  14. I just want to applaud – good for you hun! I managed to get my addiction under control…for a few months. But it’s rapidly spirally out of control again. Conference resonated with me in much the same way and I’m struggling to fight again.

    Umm…except…not this very second…

  15. I was just thinking about this a few minutes ago. This is more confirmation for me to continue to slow down. Life has helped me cut back lately, but I still fall into that exact line of thinking when I do get time at the computer. I just go from thing to thing to thing and it’s addictive. Since I’ve obviously got an addictive personality, I struggle with it. Someone just said to me last night that one of the major things I need in a life of sobriety is balance. Ah, the balance word. For mothers, so hard. But if I spent as much time seeking it as I do on the computer, I’m sure my life could be more balanced (and even include exercise!) 🙂

  16. Seriously, I was thinking about this earlier. Then I clicked on you in reader and saw the title of the post and I didn’t read it. I really don’t want to admit that I am addicted. Really, though I need to face reality so I came back to see what you had to say – and you’re so right! I need to make a plan, and stick with it!

  17. This is great, Stephanie.

    I had a revelation of my own several months ago and I’ve REALLY cut back. Now I almost exclusively use the computer at night, when my husband is at school and the kids are in bed anyway.

    What this means: I’m much more efficient while on the computer (I also have a 10:00 bedtime). Other projects around the house don’t always get done. I don’t get to check everyone’s blogs. (Hence why I’m commenting on a post that’s a few days old.) I’m doubly bad at returning emails.

    But you know what? I’m okay with it all. I feel much better – inside and out.

  18. This is AWESOME! I have been working on this at my house… concerned about the teenagers who I fear would have lost their lives to technology without my parental intervention. Things are going great, but with your help here today… they are about to get EVEN BETTER! YEAH! THANKS! This really is an epidemic problem! COMPUTERS ARE ADDICTIVE! Good job, and way to go!
    Corine 😀

  19. PS I suffered an internet addiction and recently and actually deleted my facebook account to help with this. I know it sounds rash… and there are aspects of it that I really miss – but honestly, it has been a HUGE blessing for me. I plan to open a new account at a much later date, once better self disciplined. I am doing really well now, but feel I need to do well for a time before opening an account again so I don’t fall back into time wasting habits.
    Thanks again!
    Corine 😀

  20. Pingback: Tribute to Sister Julie B. Beck « Diapers and Divinity

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