Coping with Wi-Fi Addiction - A How-To Guide

Teenager looking at cell phone in dark
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A well-known Wi-Fi usage study conducted in 2012 by networking firm Broadcom suggested many Americans are struggling with additions to wireless network connections and the Internet. Of the approximately 900 respondents:

  • more than half (60%) cannot stay off their Wi-Fi connection for more than 24 hours
  • many would trade off other common additions (coffee, chocolate, Facebook) in return for Wi-Fi Internet access

If anything, the trend appears to be getting worse over time rather than improving. Everywhere a person turns in public, people of all ages can be seen fiddling with their mobile devices. Group gatherings and person-to-person social activities have been replaced by surfing social network sites.

Twitter Commentary About Wi-Fi Addiction

Some have chosen to spend a bit of their Wi-Fi connection time posting their thoughts about the wireless addition on Twitter. User @rachelmacieras_ for example, writes:

  • “FOUND OUT THERE'S FREE WIFI AT THE HOTEL WE'RE STAYING AT IN SPAIN. YESSSSS, THE HOLIDAY HAS JUST BECOME A BEARABLE THOUGHT. #WIFIADDICTION.”

Top 10 Symptoms of Wi-Fi Addiction

Those who suffer from wireless Internet addictions generally exhibit a set of common symptoms. You are likely addicted to Wi-Fi if you suffer from multiple of these:

  1. Rushing to go online first thing in the morning, often before eating breakfast or showering
  2. Extreme impatience while waiting in public places where no Wi-Fi service is available
  3. Parking in the lot of a restaurant to use its free Wi-Fi service rather than to eat
  4. Spending significant amounts of time mapping out the locations of public hotspots before going on any trip
  5. Spending hours each day playing mobile game apps online
  6. Bringing a Wi-Fi gadget into bed to spend additional time online before going to sleep at night, and difficulty sleeping
  7. Decreasing quality of interpersonal relationships, including lying to friends or family about your activities online
  8. Decreasing performance at work or school, often due to loss of interest
  9. Rushing to grab a Wi-Fi device and go online during times of personal stress
  10. Joking about the issue or emphatically denying the problem

Managing Addition to Wi-Fi

As with other types of addictions, there is no magic pill or cure that will stop a Wi-Fi addiction. Attempts to "go cold turkey" and stop using Wi-Fi altogether often fail due to the sometimes harsh physical and emotional effects of withdrawal.

Suggestions for controlling one’s own Wi-Fi addition, or helping others with theirs, include the following:

  • Set limits for how many hours/minutes per day one is allowed to be on Wi-Fi. Start with a relatively lenient limit and then gradually reduce the quota by small amounts each day until it becomes reasonably small. Use watch timers and alarms to measure actual time spent online and alert when it is time to shut off the connection. Keep any mobile Wi-Fi devices out of sight when not in use, to avoid unnecessary temptations.
  • Enlist the help of friends and family. Establish social times to talk and engage in activities where Wi-Fi gadgets are not allowed. Have trusted friends carry your mobile Wi-Fi devices for you and only give them over when truly needed.
  • Seek professional counseling support. Often a professional caregiver has the experience and resources to help coach a person through their addiction much more easily than friends or family who all have busy lives and other responsibilities.