Fear of Internet addiction: why switch off is not a solution

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The fear of internet addiction and excessive demands of modern technology is reversed. Is simply switching off a solution? Barely. What helps is a smart approach to technology.

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Simone Janson Simone JansonSimone Janson is publisherConsultant and head of the Institute's job pictures Yourweb.


Digitalization and the Internet are life?

Again and again we have up Best of HR – Berufebilder.de® the subject of excessive demands and stress through the Internet and new technologies discussed. The large number of comments and partly violent reactions to the articles shows how great the interest in this topic is.

It also employs Katharina Borchert, who became known as an award-winning blogger with “Lyssas Lounge”. Since 2006 she has been the online editor-in-chief of the WAZ Group, and since 2010 managing director at Spiegel Online, since January 2016 she has been on the Board of Directors of Mozilla Corporation as Chief Innovation Officer responsible for the future direction of Mozilla products. Internet and social media are her life.

Digital Detox: Africa or Group Therapy?

To get down, she drives repeatedly into the African bush - without reception. For three days she suffers, then she realizes how well her self-imposed Internet abstinence is doing; for her inner balance and to free her mind, as the journalist Iris Ockenfels once told her for the medium magazin.

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Now, not everyone has the time and money to go straight to Africa. So there are people who team up with friends to protect themselves from their own online delusions. However, not in the form of a discussion group, in which one complains about one's own addictive behavior and then continues at home: No, in fact something is being done.

If people want to lose weight, that works better in the group! One can, for example, give one another the mutual promise to only log in on a single day of the month. With sanctions, if someone does it, of course. Others are even more radical and ask their friends to change their own password - but of course that's a vote of confidence.

Half a year without internet as a FAZ journalist

Journalist Alex Rühle also stayed in Germany and at work a few years ago: However, he simply switched off. Internet and smartphone. For six months. And wrote a book about it: “Without a network: My half a year offline”.

But Rühle is not someone who can easily log out of the Internet: He is a feature editor at the Süddeutschen Newspaper. And the Internet is his daily work tool. In the evening, he used to deposit his Blackberry on the shoe rack so that he would secretly sleep before going to bed eMails could check. On a quiet day, he got 68 mail and answered 45. An internet junkie, then.

It can not be done without the internet

The abstinence was correspondingly difficult: dictionaries were used as a translation aid, the editor received water level reports by postcard, and ancient technologies such as faxes were brought back to life. The colleagues joked about the “cave dweller”, he became his favorite customer for the directory inquiry, and research that he would have done in a few minutes via Google took hours because he had to search for the appropriate contact person abroad by phone.

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At the end of the six months, Rühle did not want to give up the Internet altogether. He does not use an Internet-compatible mobile phone today, but works with two computers - one to which he writes and one with which he deliberately goes online. but to stop surfing after a maximum of two hours.

Like the JoJo effect on a diet

What sounds like a nice story is actually the result of a rather irrational overreaction. Rühle, who apparently felt himself to be the plaything of his Internet addiction, tried to treat it by temporarily falling into the exact opposite. It's about as useful as a diet where you don't eat anything for a week: you lose weight, but afterwards you eat all the more, and ultimately you have more fat on your ribs.

And anyone who starts using the Internet again after a while offline runs the risk of falling back into old behavior patterns. Going from one extreme to the other has never been a good solution.

Especially not with inventions that, provided that they are used correctly, make our lives more practical, easier and better. And which therefore have become an indispensable part of everyday working life. Or have you ever thought about giving up your bed, bike or coffee machine because you use these items all the time and don't want to become dependent on them? No, and that would probably be pretty absurd.

Can we or should we stop using the internet?

On the other hand, I often hear the idea that it is better not to have Internet or at least no Internet on my cell phone. This is just as silly and ultimately shows only one thing: That the user in question is unable to use modern technology with measure and goal. Total waiver as a result of a lack of self-control! Apparently, it is even easier to completely do without the “addictive substance” than to expose yourself to the risk of addiction every day.

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Just so we do not get us wrong: There's nothing against abandoning certain technologies. Everyone can use those technical achievements that are useful to them. Personally, for example, I never got a driver's license and that's why I often look at it wrong.

Conclusion: Internet abstinence must not become an ideology

However, you should not make any ideology out of it: not the smartphone or the Internet are to blame for the misery, but all alone you. So maybe Internet junkies like teetotallers should just think about how they use a computer and the net as that what is it:

As an efficient information and communication medium, private as well as professional. What helps is not the compulsive abstinence, but the wise use of the Internet and social networks.

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