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Part the last…………..baby steps April 15, 2010

Posted by Barbara in Gamer Mom, Warcraft.

So what can you do, specifically, to help yourself change your patterns of internet use?     I’ll put in some notes for how to help others in your world move toward change – but remember – we can only change ourselves.  Other people have to find their own balance.  Pressure from you or I may do more damage than it does good.  So tread gently there.

If you have young kids who need to change, you can control some things.   But your goal is to help them to dream  and to develop self-control.  Eventually they’ll move on with life and they will need to take with them the ability to dream for themselves and find their own balance.

Step 1:   Find your vision. When you dream, what is it that really lights the fire?  Write it down.  Find a picture that represents it for you and tape it to your computer.  Dream it.  Visualize it.  Feel it as truth.  You can.

If you are hoping to help a son/daughter or spouse or friend – help them to identify what they are good at.  Help them dream.  Encourage the dream.  Don’t try to dream for them.  Accept their dream. This isn’t instant.  It takes time.  Be patient.  Yeah, that isn’t easy.  But remember, the computer is filling needs in their world.  Until they can fill those needs in other ways, they aren’t likely to want to change.  And we can only change ourselves.

Step 2:  Get active. Somehow.   Figure out how health and balance feed into your vision and work it.  There are SO many advantages to being active at whatever level you can.  Include someone else in your activity if you can.  Especially if you are hoping to help someone else who seems off-balance, jump in there and do it with them.   The extra contact will build the relationship – and it helps meet those needs that are currently going into the computer.

Step 3:  Log your time. Like counting calories – it sounds like a pain.  But the motivation it provides is huge.  You are spending more time at the computer than you are aware.   Writing it down puts it in a format you can see.

Yeah, I know Warcraft does that for you.  It doesn’t count.  It isn’t in front of you all the time.  And you didn’t have to write it down and admit it.    To make it easier, you can print out this chart and put it beside your computer.  Don’t sit down without filling it out.

Step 4:  Plan your use. You’ll notice a space on that chart to write down your intent as you start.  Are you just checking e-mail?  Give yourself 15 minutes (or whatever actually makes sense.)   Writing a blog?  Playing a game?  How long will you spend?

Step 5:  Put an alarm clock with big bright numbers on your desk beside the computer.   Set the alarm if you need to.  One of the things that happens to us is that once we are involved in our computer activity, time goes by without our being aware of it.  Yes, I know Warcraft has a clock built in.  It doesn’t help,  does it?  You CAN use the parental controls to force yourself to log off if you need to.   But if you do the other things, you may not need it.

Step 6:  Make a list of alternative things to do. Especially the ‘need’ things like homework, housework and paycheck work.  But include the ‘me’ activities that you wish you were spending more time on.  Artwork?  Learning to play piano?  Working on your car?  Remodelling the kitchen?  (okay……. maybe that’s a step too far.)   Post this within sight.

Step 7:  Start a project that will DEMAND your time. Gardening is fun.    Or volunteer somewhere.  Take a class.   Make yourself accountable to other people for part of your time.

Step 8:  Set yourself a bedtime and stick to it. The extra sleep (which may be easier if you are exercising well) helps to change the brain chemistry.   This isn’t an ‘extra’ thing.  It’s fundamental.  Like the vision.  And the exercise.

Step 9:  Give yourself permission to use the computer when the time is right. Remember, we’re looking for balance.  Not deprivation.

I didn’t make up the steps myself.  There are any number of sites where you can find similar steps for making changes in your world.    I just applied them to the challenge of gaming and internet habits.   Try www.realage.com, www.becomeanx.org, www.sparkpeople.com.     Reach for balance.

My way isn’t the only way.  I’d be happy to hear your ideas and share them with others.    And I’m on your side.  🙂

When the one great Scorer comes to write against your name,
He marks not if you won or lost, but how you played the game.

~Grantland Rice



1. Dianna/ Yoshimie - April 15, 2010

Great advice, Sea! Hopefully, this will help someone with the time-sink that is the internet (Warcraft in particular).

It’s awesome you have been able to create a wonderful balance. In a way, I am jealous. I think it is much harder with two adult gamers in the house. 🙂
I didn’t even realize I had a problem until we took a week off. That was the plan- one week. During that week, we realized how much “real life” we were missing. One week turned into two and two into three…
There are plenty of things I don’t miss about playing. The one thing I DO miss is the friendships. I am so glad we keep in touch. (Thank goodness for that aspect of the internet!)
I wish there was a better way for me to stay in touch with everyone else.

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