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 She became withdrawn from society and stopped participating in activities she used to enjoy.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

Linux and Graphics

  • Linux Kernel 4.10 Now Available for Linux Lite Users, Here's How to Install It
    Minutes after the release of Linux kernel 4.10 last evening, Jerry Bezencon from the Linux Lite project announced that users of the Ubuntu-based distribution can now install it on their machines. Linux 4.10 is now the most advanced kernel branch for all Linux-based operating systems, and brings many exciting new features like virtual GPU support, better writeback management, eBPF hooks for cgroups, as well as Intel Cache Allocation Technology support for the L2/L3 caches of Intel processors.
  • Wacom's Intuos Pro To Be Supported By The Linux 4.11 Kernel
    Jiri Kosina submitted the HID updates today for the Linux 4.11 kernel cycle.
  • Mesa 13.0.5 Released for Linux Gamers with over 70 Improvements, Bug Fixes
    We reported the other day that Mesa 13.0.5 3D Graphics Library will be released this week, and it looks like Collabora's Emil Velikov announced it earlier this morning for all Linux gamers. Mesa 13.0.5 is a maintenance update to the Mesa 13.0 stable series of the open source graphics stack used by default in numerous, if not all GNU/Linux distributions, providing gamers with powerful drivers for their AMD Radeon, Nvidia, and Intel GPUs. It comes approximately three weeks after the Mesa 13.0.4 update.
  • mesa 13.0.5

Interview: Thomas Weissel Installing Plasma in Austrian Schools

With Plasma 5 having reached maturity for widespread use we are starting to see rollouts of it in large environments. Dot News interviewed the admin behind one such rollout in Austrian schools. Read more

today's leftovers

  • Top Lightweight Linux Distributions To Try In 2017
    Today I am going to discuss the top lightweight Linux distros you can try this year on your computer. Although you got yourself a prettyLinuxle linux already but there is always something new to try in Linux. Remember I recommend to try this distros in virtualbox firstly or with the live boot before messing with your system. All distro that I will mention here will be new and somewhat differ from regular distros.
  • [ANNOUNCE] linux-4.10-ck1 / MuQSS CPU scheduler 0.152
  • MSAA Compression Support For Intel's ANV Vulkan Driver
    Intel developer Jason Ekstrand posted a patch over the weekend for enabling MSAA compression support within the ANV Vulkan driver.
  • Highlights of YaST development sprint 31
    As we announced in the previous report, our 31th Scrum sprint was slightly shorter than the usual ones. But you would never say so looking to this blog post. We have a lot of things to talk you about!
  • Comparing Mobile Subscriber Data Across Different Sources - How accurate is the TomiAhonen Almanac every year?
    You’ll see that last spring I felt the world had 7.6 Billion total mobile subscriptions when machine-to-machine (M2M) connections are included. I felt the world had 7.2 Billion total subscriptions when excluding M2M and just counting those in use by humans. And the most relevant number (bottom line) is the ‘unique’ mobile users, which I felt was an even 5.0 Billion humans in 2015. The chart also has the total handsets-in-use statistic which I felt was 5.6 Billion at the end of 2015. Note that I was literally the first person to report on the distinction of the unique user count vs total subscriptions and I have been urging, nearly begging for the big industry giants to also measure that number. They are slowly joining in that count. Similarly to M2M, we also are now starting to see others report M2M counts. I have yet to see a major mobile statistical provider give a global count of devices in use. That will hopefully come also, soon. But lets examine these three numbers that we now do have other sources, a year later, to see did I know what I was doing.

Leftovers: Gaming