Internet and Technology Addicts Anonymous (ITAA) is a free support group based on the 12 step program of Alcoholics Anonymous. We help people with internet addiction and technology addiction in all forms, including Facebook addiction, YouTube addiction, smartphone addiction, and just plain compulsive use of electronic devices. You can join our meetings over the phone or online, attend an in-person meeting in a local city, or participate in our WhatsApp group.
We don’t suggest that you give up all technology. Instead, figure out which forms of technology are most problematic for you, and find ways to set boundaries so that you are not a slave to electronic devices. The goal is that they become a tool to help you live your life without causing anxiety when you are away from them and that you don’t use them as an escape from your problems. Our program can help you achieve balance and mindfulness in your use of technology.
What Is Internet and Technology Addiction?
What kinds of technology use are problems for our members?
Checking Facebook excessively, looking for affirmation in the form of likes, and getting depressed by the exciting things other people are doing. Sitting down at the computer to do work or studying, only to find ourselves doing internet searches on every random thought that pops into our brain. Wasting time on heated discussions on Reddit, discussion forums, or comment threads on things that aren’t important. Compulsively checking our smartphones hundreds of times a day. Being obsessed with the latest major story in the news, and checking many different news sites to see if any new information has been published. Watching hours of mindless videos on YouTube. Trying to find the perfect thing to buy online, scouring Amazon, eBay, Facebook Marketplace and other online stores for exactly the right thing to fix us at the lowest possible price. Engaging in “digital hoarding”: trying to download all the old episodes of a long running TV show, gathering all the latest music from emerging musical artists, or searching our subscription services for movies to download before they expire at the end of the month.
What are the behaviors that show our technology use is becoming a problem?
Staying up most or all of the night surfing the web, or binge-watching TV when we have school or work the next morning. Neglecting our friends and family in real life in favor of people we connect with online. Using our smartphones, games or the Internet as a way to escape from difficult emotions or uncomfortable situations. Going on YouTube or Facebook to watch one how-to video or to check an event page and emerging hours later, knowing that we have been watching useless videos and interacting with mindless memes.
What have we tried to control our problem?
Installing blocking extensions or apps in our browsers, smartphones and computers, and then turn around and try to get around the blocks, or disable and uninstall the blockers. Swearing that we are going to cut out our Facebook, Instagram, or Reddit use, disabling or deleting our accounts, only to be back on them a short time later. Making grand pronouncements to friends or online groups that we are going to give up the internet for a certain period of time, but failing in those attempts.
What is Internet and Technology Addicts Anonymous?
Internet and Technology Addicts Anonymous is a free 12-step addiction fellowship that holds meetings several times a week for people seeking to recover from excessive internet and technology use. Our purpose is to recover our well-being and to help others find freedom from the effects of addiction. Membership is free and open.
If you are seeking relief, look over the meeting schedule to come to one of our meetings. If you are not sure whether this fellowship is right for you, more information can be found on the Is ITAA for me? page. You are welcome to write us an email through the Contact page.
How Can ITAA Help Support Internet Addiction Recovery?
Members attend meetings, in person or over the phone, then keep in touch between meetings through phone calls, texts, or WhatsApp or GroupMe messaging. GroupMe allows people to participate through texts on a feature phone, or through a computer without a phone.
Although we have no official literature, we read literature from other 12 step programs, particularly Alcoholics Anonymous and Overeaters Anonymous, and substitute words for internet and technology use where appropriate. We have borrowed a lot of concepts from Overeaters Anonymous and Sex and Love Addicts Anonymous, because in those fellowships, you still have to eat to live, and there are some forms of sex and relationships that can be healthy. We are adapting step study guides from other fellowships to help guide us in working a 12 step program.
What Does Technology Addiction Recovery Look Like?
Most of our members continue to use technology in a more limited way as part of their daily lives. Because different people had different forms of technology that were issues for them, the boundaries they set are different. Several members have found that imposing hard limits on technology use at home has been helpful, such as not having internet access at home during certain hours of the day or at all, and only using the internet in public places. At least one person has changed jobs to something that doesn’t require technology use.
What Does Smartphone Addiction Recovery Look Like?
Some people limit their use of cell phones via parental controls and disable most of their apps. Some switch to primarily using a feature phone, and others don’t feel smartphones are a problem for them. Some people decide that they will no longer watch TV or movies by themselves, while others decide that watching TV is okay, as long as they don’t exceed certain limits.
What Is Mindful Technology Use?
A common factor is realizing that we can live without being constantly connected to the world through electronic devices, and that we can take time off from them. Occasionally disconnecting from technology allows us to be present with the people around us and show that we value them. The opposite of addiction is not abstinence, but connection to other human beings.