Internet Addiction Wake Up Devices

The internet can be very addicting to ADDers. Dr. Margaret Weiss head of the Vancouver ADHD clinic has mentioned at a recent CHADD Vancouver meeting that she saw internet addiction as a big problem for many people with ADHD.

Even if you don’t have a full blown case of internet addiction, the instant gratification and infinite amount of websites, blogs, forums, e-groups games, porn, gambling, chat rooms etc on every possible topic under the sun can be a strong temptation for most people to spend a lot of time on.

It’s even worse for a person with ADD who usually is:

  • easily distracted
  •  has an under stimulated brain and is frequently seeking stimulation
  •  always looking for something new and exciting
  • gets a lot of pleasure out of being in the state of hyperfocus
  • impulsive
  • short on dopamine, which the internet is an endless source of

Unlike TV, it’s a two way interactive communication, which makes it even more dangerous for some of us.

Adults with ADD don’t usually have a good internal clock and consequently are not often very aware of time, unless you’ve taken steps to actively develop that awareness of time that others take for granted. This can lead us to going to look at our email or find something on one website and we wake up 4 hours later still on the net.

One way to deal with internet addiction or its milder versions is to find ways to break out of the state of hyperfocus that being on the internet often creates.

If you don’t naturally have a good internal clock, you need external ones. Here are 3 Macintosh ones, but I’m sure there are similar ones (probably not as well designed of courses) for Windows too. It’s not a complete solution for internet addiction, but it’s a start, they give you a chance to get up and STEP AWAY FROM THE COMPUTER. Which of course is the first step.



Timeout is another such program and it’s freeware. Looks like it does everything coffee break (RIP) did and more. you can play a different sound, run an Automator workflow, AppleScript, or application at the start and/or end of each break.

so you can have it pause iTunes and play a short soothing piece of music at the start of a break, then a buzzer and resume iTunes when the break is over.


looks like you can do similar things as coffee break and it adds a timer for routine activities like doing yoga, Qigong or TaiChi. You can set how long you do warrior pose and what sound you want to start and end it with.

FlexTime’s scripted cues and robust scripting dictionary. Design your own cues using AppleScript, Perl, Python, or just about any other language!

You can also use regular timers to help remind you go get off the computer, the advantage of these ones is once you set them up they’re automatic, you don’t need to reset them every time you have a break.

What tools do you use to help remind you to take a break from the computer/net?

28 thoughts on “Internet Addiction Wake Up Devices”

  1. There is a program for PCs, Lock & Rest, which will lock your computer up for a set amount of time, like 5 minutes, every set amount of time, like half an hour. I set it for one minute break every ten minutes and when it locks I get up and try to do some cleaning. It can be turned off easily if you are working on something that you do need to concentrate all of your time on.

  2. Hi Heather,

    I googled lock and rest and when i found it on 2 shareware sites they said the maker was but i couldn’t find it on the companies website. What I did find was a spyware program “Total Spy 2.1 is the best all-in-one spyware” so you might consider getting another timer since the one you’re using may be a spyware program. maybe check the reminder section of tucows for alternatives

  3. Great article on Internet Addiction. And to think I thought I was the only one who “zoned” for hours on end! I now reconize (after the fact) that I was hyperfocusing but didn’t know how to break away the next time. Thank you! I will definetely try sometime of device in the hope that it can break my focus long enough to realize for me to realize what I’m doing.

  4. You’re welcome Carol,
    and you’re definitely not the only one. I think one thing ADDers don’t realize is that when you’re in hyperfocus mode you often can’t come out voluntarily easily so an external reminder is so crucial.

  5. Ironically, I came to your website from a link on a blog! Today was a beautiful, unusually hot (80 C) day and guess where I spent it? Yup…in the blue glow of my iMac screen. I went on the internet at 10 a.m. to check one thing, and I am still here at 4 p.m. – and still in my pyjamas. Thank you so much for the suggestions for breaking hyperfocus and escaping. I am going to show this article to my husband, who has done 16 useful things today and who just went swimming – by himself!

    As regards the poor internal clock of the ADD adult: we have a clock in every room of our house except the bathrooms. There are four in the kitchen alone, counting the ones on the appliances. Furthermore, I strap on a wristwatch the minute I leave my bed. Doesn’t help much. What I need is a companion dog or helper monkey, or maybe an abusive parrot?

  6. Great Idea – Internet Wake Up Devices. But sadly for me I have a PC and am having trouble finding a free and reliable one. Please please can you suggest one?

  7. I also use Lock&rest, is the only thing that really works, as it ‘locks’ the mouse for however long youset it for, (really really annoying, until I see what I accomplish w forced breaks!!) I’ve set alarms that I’ve let go off forever, as I couldn’t quit…for awhile I couldn’t find it anywhere, now it seems to be back,though still not on It used to be. I have aboout a million different spyware/antivirus programs I run often as I just had a big problem with one that I finally had to reformat my drive because of (nothing to do w/ this program), and it has never picked that up as a virus and/or spyware.

  8. Ok, I don’t see any solutions for PC’s either.This is a big issue for me at my job which is horrible.

  9. “ComputerTime”, made by “SoftwareTime”, is a good choice for PCs. It’s intended as a parental control program, but I’ve found it works well for self-control.

    You can set the total number of hours you’re allowed to be on the computer, as well as enforce breaks by specifying how long you’re allowed to use the computer in one sitting and how long you have to wait before you can use the computer again.

    You can set up different user profiles with passwords so that other people can use the computer as they wish. You can have someone else set and remember the administrator password if you want, but I find that, even if I know the administrator password, I generally don’t use it to allow myself more time except in cases where I absolutely need to be on the computer. If you want, you can also give yourself “time tokens” so that you have a limited number of “exceptions” where you can exceed the limits you set for yourself.

    It’s very simple and easy to use. You can get a 14-day free trial, and then it’s $29.95 to buy.

  10. I’m coming in late to this conversation, but better late than never. Lovely to know there are more resources to protect ourselves from ourselves ;-). Seriously, as a psychologist with ADHD who specializes in working with adults with ADHD, I’m happy to use tools that can give our mindful/conscious attention an edge in dealing with the limits of our brains. I do love my brain, it’s just that it’s a creature of habit and not well-equiped to deal with the endless flow of stim available to it in our world.

    Here’s the link for the freeware Lock & Rest:

    Now, it’s time to get up from the computer and take the dogs for a walk. Ta-ta for now!

  11. For PC owners another option is to use Firefox and an add-on. Top of my search results is Take A Break 1.2. Going to try this one as I definitely need something.

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