Responsible internet Use
As a Staff level Officer at Medical Research Institute, you probably have a number of reasons to access the internet daily. The internet is a very wonderful resource of information, tool for medical research, businesses and consumers, and is one of the largest sources of personal entertainment as well. With so many possible uses, it is easy to spend large amounts of time and money on the internet, and, for some, this may become a problem.
How to find a genuine website
- Use your instincts and common sense when you surf the internet.
- Always check for presence of an address, phone number and/or email contact – often indications that the website is genuine. If in doubt, better avoid.
- Always check that the website’s address seems to be genuine by looking for misspellings, extra words, characters or numbers or a completely different name from that you would expect the business to have.
- Roll your mouse pointer over a link to reveal its true destination, displayed in the bottom left corner of your browser. Beware if this is different from what is displayed in the text of the link from either another website or an email.
- If there is NO padlock in the browser window or ‘https://’ at the beginning of the web address to signify that it is using a secure link, do not enter personal information on any site unless you make sure.
- Any website which request more personal information than you would normally expect to give, such as user name, password or other security details IN FULL, are probably malicious.
- Avoid ‘pharming’ by checking the address in your browser’s address bar after you arrive at a website to make sure it matches the address you typed. This will avoid ending up at a fake site even though you entered the address for the authentic one – for example ‘eebay’ instead of ‘ebay.
- Always get professional advice before making investment decisions. Sites that hype investments for fast or high return – whether in shares or alleged rarities like old wine, whisky or property – are often fraudulent.
- Beware of websites which promote schemes that involve the recruitment of others, receiving money for other people or advance payments.
- If you are suspicious of a website, carry out a web search to see if you can find out whether or not it is fraudulent.
- Beware of websites that are advertised in unsolicited emails from strangers.
What is responsible internet use?
Responsible internet use includes using the internet for a specific, reasonable goal that does not interfere with your regular day-to-day activities and/or interactions with people. Here is an example of a possible problem: You notice that you no longer exercise after class any longer but instead log on to Face book. An example of reasonable internet use is to exercise after class and cool down by spending 30 minutes checking Face book as a reward for exercising. When time on the internet begins to substitute for regularly scheduled activities or interactions with people, it may be an indication that you are not using the internet in a responsible way.
How can I help myself?
Beginning to use the internet in a responsible way may not be a difficult process. Here are some suggestions for using the internet in a responsible way:
- Have a specific goal when logging on to the internet. By having a clear and reasonable purpose for accessing the internet, prior to signing on, you can limit the time spent aimlessly surfing. Make sure to log off once you have reached your internet goal!
- Notice internet usage patterns. By noticing how and when you use the internet you can start to analyze your own patterns and begin the process of change.
- Change your internet routine by adding another activity in lieu of an internet activity. For example; you routinely log into Instant Messenger (IM), then check your email each morning. Substitute eating breakfast for the IM and just check your email. You can be creative with this one!
- Create external structure to support your good internet habits. Some people find it difficult to log off the internet once they’ve logged on. Try scheduling your internet time just prior to class or work so you’ll have a reason to log off.
- Include “internet time” as an entry in your daily schedule. Regularly scheduled, time-limited periods on the internet can be part of a healthy day!
- Recognize what you are missing. Often times people who use don’t use the internet responsibly find they are missing out in other areas of their life. Some of these include sleep, face to face time with friends, physical activity, hobbies, etc. Once you have noticed what you are missing, pick one and add it in lieu of an internet activity.
- Recognize your triggers. Take a moment to notice your feelings when you start to head for the computer to access the internet. Take another moment to notice how you feel when you are engaged in your favourite internet activity. By noticing your feelings in these moments, you can begin to understand what you are getting by using the internet. Try to substitute what you get from the internet with an activity outside of the internet that can give you a similar feeling.
- Confront feelings of loneliness and build new relationships. Internet dependence or over-use can be thought of as a problem of human disconnection. Make an effort to create human connections, or in-person relationships. There are a number of options that can help (meeting friends physically and arranging some activities like sport events and competitions among staff/ friends).
- Explore difficult emotions and find support. Internet dependence or over-use may be driven by feelings such as boredom, anxiety, emptiness, or depression. Many people encounter these emotions, particularly at times of transition or uncertainty. Consider seeking counseling to explore these emotions.
How can I help someone else who may be struggling with internet use?
Let the individual know you have noticed that they seem to be on the internet quite often and wanted to make sure they are doing okay.
Let the individual know what you have noticed about how their internet use is affecting him/her. Try not to cast judgment, but simply state “I noticed that you (e.g. have not been in the lounge much)…and feel concerned that you (e.g. may be missing our fun times there) …”
Attempt to make a connection with the person by doing an activity that doesn’t involve the internet. For example, invite the person to join you for a meal at a time that you have noticed the person frequently uses the internet. This helps facilitate the process of substituting in-person activities or interactions for internet use.