Internet surfing is relaxing and fun but, like most activities, it can be taken to extremes. It’s one thing clicking from website to website and spending time on social media on a lazy Sunday afternoon. If you’re wasting time on it at work, then your productivity is being affected. Do you find it difficult to stay away from playing on the internet?
Internet Addiction Disorder has been identified relatively recently, to describe people whose dependence on the internet is detrimental to their ordinary life. We all know how tempting it is to just check email or social media pages, or to have a quick look at the latest news or the latest posts on Twitter. If you’re an employee and can’t leave the internet alone at work, it might only be a matter of time before your declining productivity becomes apparent. If you’re a business owner with a penchant for internet surfing, you could be impairing the success of your business and neglecting things that should be done.
Internet addiction is ultimately rooted in human biology. The internet is still a new thing, especially in the long timeline of human history. Some say that our brains are still learning to cope with the information overload that the internet can provide. The interactions we have online, from emails to chat requests to notifications, are thought to release dopamine, a ‘feel-good’ neurotransmitter which is related to sensations of pleasure. Some recreational drugs also work by increasing dopamine levels. Who’d have thought internet-bingeing had anything in common with hard drugs?
The problem of internet addiction has been explored by the lifestyle website called The Art of Manliness, who describe the boost we get from discovering new information about our immediate environment:
‘And what is the Internet besides a collection of millions of bits of information–hit after dopamine-releasing hit. The Internet is really like a giant information slot machine. Every time you surf to a new page, you pull that lever, and wait to see what pops up. Pull the lever. Pull the lever. Pull the lever. Ding-ding-ding-ding. It’s easy to get entranced and lose track of time.’
Like all addictions, dependence on the internet can be hard to beat. It’s not like other addictions, where you can just go cold turkey and give it up completely. Many jobs require us to use the internet on a daily or even hourly basis, for research, meetings, liaising with clients and a whole lot more. You wouldn’t be able to do your job without it. The best way forward is to pinpoint which websites you find most irresistible and spend the most time on. You can then try to discipline yourself to only use those sites at certain times – preferably outside of working hours.
Business owners also have a role to play to control excessive internet surfing. It can be frustrating to realize that your staff are spending ten or twenty percent of their working day on irrelevant websites that have little or nothing to do with work. You could try a heavy-handed approach and dish out punishments, and formulate an internet usage policy that specifies what is and is not allowed on company time. Whether that will work is another matter.
Alternatively, you can solve the problem with technology. The Unified Threat Management (UTM) tool that Quikteks offers can help. Using its content filter, you can effectively block websites like Twitter, Facebook and YouTube. It’s also a flexible solution. You can apply the content filter to individual users who are known to waste too much time on websites that are unrelated to their work. You can put a blanket ban on social media websites, but with an exception for your marketing staff who use it in their work for the business. Because it’s customizable, a content filter gives you multiple options for managing internet usage. UTM content filtering can help increase productivity by as much as 25%.
Stand up to internet addiction disorder and make sure your staff don’t go overboard on the internet. For more information about using a content filter and integrating a UTM with your business, call Quikteks at (973) 882-4644.