Nine Bucks Will Stop Your Internet Working

John Lister's picture

Internet users who find themselves distracted online can pay up to $9 a month to block certain websites. The service has some obvious limitations but does prompt debate about Internet addiction.

The Freedom service offers users four types of block: block all Internet access, block specific websites, block specific apps, or block all sites except those the user has specifically listed. It can cover computers, phones and tablets.

After a free trial of seven "block sessions" users must pay for some features. This includes use on an unlimited devices and scheduling. This carries a subscription fee of $8.99 a month, just under $40 for a year, or $160 for life.

Locked Mode Is Added Block

How people use the service may vary. Clearly those with willpower won't bother with it in the first place and either just not use the Internet, put their device away, or add an extra little inconvenience by unplugging a router.

Those who do can always switch the service off. In these cases, the idea appears to be that the app creates an extra mental block to make people think whether they really do need to access a website or they are just acting out of habit or craving.

The more extreme "locked" mode means that the user can only manually override the scheduled blocking three times. After this, they will need to contact a support desk to regain access before their scheduled blocking period ends. In this case users can still get back online if they really need to, but will be deterred from all but the most important browsing. (Source: spectactor.co.uk)

Addiction May Be Real

Amazingly, Freedom is just one of a host of services which offer some form of blocking. Others use more motivational methods including one that grows a virtual tree during a time-out but shows it dying if the user goes back online early. Another replaces "blocked" sites with animal pictures. (Source: zapier.com)

It's pretty clear these services only appeal to a niche audience: those who feel they need a little extra help to avoid distraction, but aren't so desperate to get online that they simply undo the block every time. The paid services in particular likely only appeal to people fortunate enough to be able spend money on what some would see as frivolous.

However, the fact such services exist could be a sign that internet use can be a form of addiction that means some people really do need help to break the mental desire to be constantly online.

What's Your Opinion?

Would you use such a service? Are you surprised anyone would pay for it? Have you ever felt your internet use is a compulsion or even addiction?

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