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Moms and Internet Addiction

      Confession time. Last week my husband was out of town. Of course I miss him when he's away. But I was super excited about going on my computer at night without feeling guilty about not paying him any attention. I cleaned out my Inbox and logged onto Facebook and basically surfed the Web well past midnight without even a tinge of guilt.

     I must admit I feel as much of an attachment to my computer and the Internet as I do to my kids. Pretty sad, huh? 

      Apparently, this attachment is even more intense with new moms. Lisa Belkin on her Motherlode blog points out an increase in the number of parents who are Internet addicts. In particular they are young mothers, feeling isolated and overwhelmed with a new baby, turning to the computer for community, companionship and escape. It certainly has created an explosion of mom blogs and mom websites. 

   Here's how Belkin defines addiction: Looking up from the screen and realizing more time has passed than you’d planned, and that you prefer to spend that time with people you don’t actually know in places that don’t actually exist, rather than take on the tasks, problems and obligations of real life. (Are you seeing yourself in this definition?)

    In an essay on Parenting.com, writer Rachel Mosteller says: “I was scrolling through family photos on my computer,” she writes of her moment of truth, “admiring my two beautiful babies, when I spotted a disturbing trend: My laptop was open in almost all of the pictures. There’s my daughter, at 8 months, playing at my feet while I typed away on the couch. There’s me and my son, a year later, with the laptop at my side as I held him in my arms.” 

As parents we worry about our children on the Internet – we limit their screen time, watch over their shoulders and concern ourselves with what they are doing online. But what exactly are we doing online and what's sending us there? 

Think you might be hooked? Mosteller has some great suggestions:

Try keeping a journal of how often you go online for a week. Then assess what you’re missing out on when you do it — sleep, family time, work?

Also note in your journal what was going on each time you decided to sit down at the computer. Was it right after a fight with your husband? Were you bored? Feeling insecure about work? By figuring out the triggers that send you seeking refuge online, Moore says, you can come up with alternative activities that help you deal. If you’re stressed, for example, you might take your baby out for a walk (or your hubbie).

    How long do you think you could go without logging on? Do you think you might be relying too much on the Internet to feel productive?