Stopping YouTube Addiction: The Optimal Approach
So maybe after reading the signs of YouTube addiction you found out that you binge-watch one too many cat videos. What now?
If you are addicted to something, conventional wisdom says that you should simply abstain from that addiction forever. While that may be the best case for substance addiction, it isn't always the best case for technology-based behavioral addictions.
In fact, removing YouTube from your life may do more harm than good.
YouTube is the best video search engine, providing free and quickly accessible educational content. You often have to spend too much time and money just to get the same content that YouTube already provides.
So what is the best approach?
Instead of completely abstaining from YouTube, I suggest you learn how to transition into using YouTube for enrichment purposes ONLY. YouTube should be used as a betterment tool instead of using it for mindless entertainment.
If you are addicted to YouTube, your default activity is likely derived from mindlessly watching and clicking the most entertaining videos you see.
In order to transition from that behavior, you must rewire your brain to a new behavior, using YouTube as a tool and tool alone. This can be done due to the awesome powers of neuroplasticity.
With neuroplasticity, you can rewire your brain to change any behavior, for better or worse. Not only can you stop mindless binging videos, but you can also enforce the behavior of using YouTube as a tool.
Each time you use YouTube as a tool for bettering yourself, you are one step closer to making your brain want to use YouTube in that manner.
Soon enough, instead of YouTube being a source that hinders your life, it's now a source that improves your life.
You may argue that de-stressing is an important aspect of bettering your life and I completely agree. The problem is that you already neurologically associate YouTube with leisure, but it's in an unhealthy manner.
You must have a clear enrichment-based objective for browsing YouTube. You should know the answer to both of these questions before any browsing is done on YouTube:
- What is it that I want to accomplish?
- Is it for enrichment purposes?
So if your objective is learn how to change a tire, you know that's what you want to accomplish on YouTube. It's for enrichment purposes because you need to fix your tire to go to work.
If a video indirectly helps progress your tasks and/or life, like by listening to a music playlist, I'd also classify it under enrichment purposes.
YouTube, like many other sites and apps, is engineered to be as addictive as possible.
It's algorithms lures you in with videos you are most likely interested in watching due to the previous videos you've seen.
The homepage and recommend videos feed are danger zones that causes many people to relapse into binge-watching, even if they had a preplanned objective before visiting.
No more comments, recommended videos, homepage, or any other distractions to get in your way. Most importantly, no more urges to binge-watch, since nothing is there to trigger you into doing it.
With this plugin enabled, it allows you to treat YouTube as a minimalistic video search engine for your objectives.
If you don't have another healthy outlet for leisure, you must find one.
This is because YouTube was previously used for negative emotions, like boredom and stress. You would need a replacement habit to fulfill the same needs that YouTube has satiated.
For example, you may have used YouTube because you were bored. In that case, playing an instrument or reading could be a good replacement for you.
Every time you feel the need to browse YouTube in an unhealthy manner, simply perform your leisure outlet of choice.
Overtime, your brain learns to rewire itself to prefer this outlet over YouTube for leisure.
Keep in mind, you could also very well have other reason(s) for your YouTube addiction that goes beyond just having unhealthy means of dealing with negative emotions, like having unmet social needs.
Replacing your YouTube addiction with another leisure outlet would not be enough by itself. YouTube wouldn't be the real problem, it would just be a symptom.
Sure, you can overcome YouTube addiction, but you may just end up using another vice like video games to cope with the same problem(s) that your YouTube addiction was used for.
That doesn't mean your efforts are waste though, you still needed a replacement outlet for negative emotions.
So if you believe your problems are deeper, you must find your root cause and address it. If you are having trouble finding and/or addressing your root cause(s) on your own, help with a medical professional would be wise.
When YouTube isn't used for mindless binging, it's a great place to find anything from career development to learning a new instrument. It would be a waste not utilizing the content that YouTube provides almost instantaneously and free.