Instant Messaging Addicting, Distracting

You wake up in the morning and perhaps turn on the computer to log onto the net. Your instant messengers start and log on. You check who’s online and who’s offline. One of your friends is online but their status is set to “away.” If you’re like many IM users, you’ll surf the web and hang out until that friend comes back from their status of away. Often times we’ll leave our computers on while we do chores hoping that our friends will be back once we’re back. But this could becoming addicting. Some IM users may end up surfing for hours in hopes that each time they check the IM, others will be back. IMing could be causing an addiction that’s unhealthy.

Did you know that when you stare too long at a computer screen, you are damaging your eyeball muscles. Also when you leave your IM on while you’re doing chores, you end up costing yourself both time and money. When you could be thinking about something else, you’re concerned with when someone will return. Plus it’s not free to leave the computer on and all it’s electricity. You could use the stand by button, but this may disconnect your Internet connection if you’re on dial up. Constantly re connecting and being disconnected can become frustrating.

For many children anywhere between ages 4 and 25, it can be hard to give up this habit. I’ve seen some who keep their IM on all night or all day when their out. Maybe it’s because they hope someone will leave them a message or maybe they want others to see how busy they are. But isn’t that why we have e-mail and offline messages? Many parents don’t even know that their children are leaving the computer on all night in their rooms, only to find a huge electricity bill.

There are ways to help an addiction to IM. Such as limiting how many IM programs your family has. Having more than 2 can cause problems. Not only is your computer’s space being taken up with extra programs, but you may have the same friends just on a different IM. Decide on what IM programs your friends mostly use. Or you can try an All in One IM program, but keep in mind that there isn’t necessarily the same features as the original messenger would have.

Limit your time that you use to chat. Do you find yourself chatting for hours at a time? Surfing while a friend does a chore? If it’s someone you really want to chat with, shut down your computer and set up a time to meet on later. This not only will save you time sitting on the computer with glazed eyes, you’ll save on electricity.

If no one is on, ditch the chat rooms. Time can fly right before your eyes when you’re watching others chatting or looking for someone to chat with. For parents it may be a good idea to block chatrooms. Only allow your children to chat with ones you know and trust. This will help with safety and time. If someone is away, give yourself a few minutes to see if they are coming back soon. Don’t allow yourself to give the other person a few more minutes because this can add up quickly.

If you’re on a messenger that shows the idle time and it’s been a while, there’s a good chance they won’t be coming back soon. Don’t allow yourself to become wrapped up in the waiting line for others. If they are away enjoying life, you should be too. Lastly, don’t leave IM’s on when you’re busy yourself on the net. Many times you’ll become distracted and it’ll take longer to complete a task if you start chatting. It’s not going to be easy logging off, but after a while it’ll become second nature to leave the IM world and to come back later to it.

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