Kicking the Angry Birds Habit: 3 Steps to Freeing Yourself From Gaming Addiction

We love games. We play them on our computers and we play them on our phones. We’ve been told that online games make us smarter, and can be used to incentivize good behavior. But when playing games on your cell phone begins to interfere with your day-to-day life beyond a fun distraction or a way to kill a few minutes in line, it may be time to take some steps to wean yourself off of your preferred technologies.

While few people suffer from a gaming addiction as crippling as that of the protagonist in this satirical video, it’s hard to argue that our personal and work lives couldn’t benefit from those two or three extra hours playing Farmville. Here are three steps you can take to cut back.

  1. Take inventory. Think back to last week – how many hours did you spend playing Angry Birds? Poker? Canabalt? With all the brutal honesty you can muster, add those hours up and take a moment to reflect. What else could you have done with those three, four, five plus hours? Multiply that number by 5 and again by 12 for a rough estimate of how much time you spend per month, and per year playing online games.
  2. Remove the offending programs from your life. Now that you’re inspired – or horrified! – by the amount of time you spend on online gaming, take your top three or four personal time wasting apps or game sites and remove them from your computer or phone. If you’d rather slowly decrease the time you spend online gaming, there are a number of online blocks that you can use to limit your daily usage of certain websites: StayFocused, SelfControl, and Chrome Nanny are all good ones.
  3. Find new ways to spend your free time. Think back to step 1, where you took inventory of the time you spent gaming per year. If you spent all of those hours doing something else, what could you accomplish? Could you learn French? Work a second part time job doing something you love? Figure out what you can do to make your life more meaningful, and you’ll be able to more easily resist temptation when brighter, shinier and more addictive games hit the market.

Let us know your tips to keeping productivity up and online gaming down in a comment.