Language Selection

English French German Italian Portuguese Spanish

Computer Addiction or Healthy Enthusiam?

Filed under
-s

Are you a computer addict? ... or is someone you love a computer addict?

If so, you are not alone.

I have this friend who I believe has become addicted to her computer. It started out innocently enough with the purchase of a computer to do her bookkeeping, keep in touch with long distant friends and relatives, or a little light reading. Over the next year or so she began to spend more and more time on it and less and less with her friends. She became withdrawn from society and stopped participating in activities she used to enjoy. Call her anytime day or night and in asking "wha'cha doing?" she states "playing on the computer". I jokingly told her "I think you are addicted to that thing".

As time went on, I began to suspect this wasn't a joking matter and perhaps she could have a real condition with serious repercussions. Termed "Internet Addiction Disorder" by some, or "Computer Addiction" by others, this affliction knows no age or sex boundaries. It isn't confined to any social class, race, or country. It doesn't discriminate.

It doesn't discrimate, but different demographics tend to be addicted to certain elements under the massive umbrella we'll term "computers". Youngsters tend to become so entrenched in their video games that they withdraw from friends, lose sleep, and cease all semblance of learning in school. Teenage females lean towards chat rooms and instant messaging. Housewives and women in general might become addicted to ebay or other on-line purchasing and sometimes incur massive debt, neglect the family unit, and her household chores. Many men, age not being a factor, become addicted to porn and the ilk, computer hacking/cracking, irc or discussion forums or even online gambling. Many neglect work, friends and family. All age groups spend countless hours "surfing". In actuality these examples cross demographic lines and are meant only as a loose generalization. "As a trained cognitive behavior therapist, I often treat gamblers, alcoholics and people with obsessive-compulsive disorder, and have also studied mood changes resulting from the recreational use of psychotropic medication. I concluded that this inappropriate and excessive use of the computer might be a distinct disorder" (Orzack et al., 1988).

Symptoms can include feelings of euphoria or contentment when on the computer and depression or loss when not, craving more and more time on the computer and lying to everyone about their computer usage. Ailments can appear physically as well in the form of carpal tunnel syndrome, back and neck soreness, migrains, eating and sleeping disorders, and even neglecting personal hygiene.

Computers have become a constant in our society and in fact they are present in about every aspect of our lives. They are a convenience, a help, even a necessity. Like food or possibly alcohol, one may need or want to partake in order to sustain or enjoy life, but when it becomes an incontrollable excess it can be defined as an addiction. Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary (1913) defines addicted as "To apply habitually; to devote; to habituate". Addiction becomes a problem as it interferes with normal life processes. "But as in all addictions, the problem is where to draw the line between "normal" enthusiasm and "abnormal" preoccupation (Suler, 1999).

"We have no idea what levels or kinds of computer usage are "normal." Therefore, we cannot state which behavior is always pathological" (Orzack, 1998). To establish a baseline of normalcy I asked a random sample of 47 people encountered over a three day period throughout the course of my daily life, "how much time do you spend on the computer outside of work within each 24-hour period?". Among this group were friends, co-workers, strangers, and relatives. To minimize bias I asked anyone I encountered regardless of any demographic indicators. Simply put, I asked everyone I ran into, that I hadn't already asked, over the course of three days. Answers ranged from 0 to 12 hours. The average and the number I'm using as a baseline is roughly 2.3 hours per day.

I asked those whose time on the computer each day was greater than 4 hours if they would fill out a survey to help me on a research project and 14 complied. Granted this is a small sample and as such my findings are not exactly scientifically valid. For the scope of this article the results are interesting. Each of the 14 respondants fell into the computer addicted range. That would indicate almost 30% of the given sample was what I considered addicted. Gaming consoles and handhelds were also included as computers.

John M. Grohol, Psy.D. states, "Since the aspects of the Internet where people are spending the greatest amount of time online have to do with social interactions, it would appear that socialization is what makes the Internet so "addicting." That's right -- plain old hanging out with other people and talking with them. Whether it's via e-mail, a discussion forum, chat, or a game online (such as a MUD), people are spending this time exchanging information, support, and chit-chat with other people like themselves" (Grohol, 2004).

Unfortunately it's difficult to locate any real work in this area as most still think of it as a joke. It hasn't become a stigma in our society yet and as such it's being treated nonchalantly or with humor. In phoning local psychologists and mental treatment centers I found only one out of twelve that would even grant a consultation. Among the responses I received, two initially laughed, four referred to me to another doctor, two just said I don't treat that (paraphrasing), two that said they'd get back to me (another paraphrase) and one referred me to Alcoholics Anonymous.

Very few professionals are beginning to consider computer addiction a real affliction such as eating disorders, alcoholism, or conpulsive gambling. Dr. Orzack has founded Computer Addiction Services at McLean Hospital in Belmont, Massachusetts. But this is rare. One of the few serious papers found on the subject described the disorder as "theorized". Even more rare were suggestions for treatment.

For this newly emerging disorder, one might adapt some other basic techniques used in other addiction treatments. Other than using alcoholism as an example and just pulling the plug "cold turkey", some basic suggestions might include:

  • Setting time limits and sticking to them

  • Perhaps scheduling set blocks of time - like appointments
  • No more skipping meals or eating at the computer
  • Don't refuse invitations from family and friends (get out of the house!)
  • Dust off that bowflex or dig out the old football (then use them)
  • Downgrade your connection speed
  • If feasible get a new pet or new hobby
  • Move the computer to a busy, less private part of the house
  • Reinstall Windows! (just kidding).

Unfortunately at this time there is very little work in this area and as such there are few real scientifically valid studies or treatment programs. Whether you believe there is really such a thing or not, perhaps the following survey can be food for thought.




References

Computer Addiction Services [online: http://www.computeraddiction.com/]

International Journal of Applied Psychoanalytic Studies, Computer and cyberspace addiction, John Suler, Ph.D. (March 1999, Vol. Sleepy

Internet Addiction guide [online: http://psychcentral.com/netaddiction/]

Psychiatric Times, Computer Addiction: What Is It?, Maressa Hecht Orzack, Ph.D. (August 1998, Vol. XV, Issue 8)



I'm not a doctor and don't pretend this study is scientifically valid. The sample was small and the questionable methodology of the research and results weren't well documented. It only reflects my personal research and thoughts on the subject.

re: Im not an addict

lolol /Me/ tooo!

----
You talk the talk, but do you waddle the waddle?

Comment viewing options

Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes.

More in Tux Machines

Red Hat and Fedora

  • Is there need for Red Hat Certification training in Zimbabwe?
    A local institution is investigating the need to train Systems Administrators/Engineers who use Linux towards Red Hat certifications. The course is targeted at individuals with at least 2 years experience using Linux.
  • Red Hat, Inc. (NYSE:RHT) By The Numbers: Valuation in Focus
  • Fedora @ Konteh 2017 - event report
    This year we managed to get a booth on a very popular student job fair called Konteh. (Thanks to Boban Poznanovic, one of the event managers)
  • Fedora 26 Alpha status is NO-GO
    The result of the second Fedora 26 Alpha Go/No-Go Meeting is NO-GO. Due to blockers found during the last days [1] we have decided to delay the Fedora 26 Alpha release for one more week. There is going to be one more Go/No-Go meeting on the next Thursday, March 30th, 2017 at 17:00 UTC to verify we are ready for the release.
  • Fedora 26 Alpha Faces Another Delay
    Fedora 26 was set back by a delay last week and today it's been delayed again for another week. Fedora 26 Alpha has been delayed for another week when at today's Go/No-Go meeting it was given a No-Go status due to outstanding blocker bugs.

GNOME News: Gtef, GNOME 3.24 Release Video, Epiphany 3.24

  • Gtef 2.0 – GTK+ Text Editor Framework
    Gtef is now hosted on gnome.org, and the 2.0 version has been released alongside GNOME 3.24. So it’s a good time for a new blog post on this new library.
  • GNOME's GTK Gets Gtef'ed
    Developer Sébastien Wilmet has provided an overview of Gtef with this text editing framework having been released in tandem with GNOME 3.24. Gtef provides a higher level API to make it easier for text editing or in developer-focused integrated development environments.
  • The Official GNOME 3.24 Release Video Is Here
    By now you’re probably well aware that a new update to the GNOME desktop has been released — and if you’re not, where’ve you been?! GNOME 3.24 features a number of neat new features, welcome improvements, and important advances, most of which we’ve documented in blog posts during the course of this week.
  • A Web Browser for Awesome People (Epiphany 3.24)
    Are you using a sad web browser that integrates poorly with GNOME or elementary OS? Was your sad browser’s GNOME integration theme broken for most of the past year? Does that make you feel sad? Do you wish you were using an awesome web browser that feels right at home in your chosen desktop instead? If so, Epiphany 3.24 might be right for you. It will make you awesome. (Ask your doctor before switching to a new web browser. Results not guaranteed. May cause severe Internet addiction. Some content unsuitable for minors.)

today's howtos

AMDGPU Vega Patches and AMD Open-Sources Code

  • More AMDGPU Vega Patches Published
    Less than one week after AMDGPU DRM Vega support was published along with the other Vega enablement patches for the Linux driver stack, more Direct Rendering Manager patches are being shot out today.
  • AMD have announced 'Anvil', an MIT-licensed wrapper library for Vulkan
    AMD are continuing their open source push with 'Anvil' a new MIT-licenses wrapper library for Vulkan. It's aim is to reduce the time developers spend to get a working Vulkan application.
  • AMD Open-Sources Vulkan "Anvil"
    While waiting for AMD to open-source their Vulkan Linux driver, we have a new AMD open-source Vulkan project to look at: Anvil. Anvil is a project out of AMD's GPUOpen division and aims to be a wrapper library for Vulkan to make it easier to bring-up new Vulkan applications/games. Anvil provides C++ Vulkan wrappers similar to other open-source Vulkan projects while also adding in some extra features.