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What is Computer Addiction?

By Garry Crystal
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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Computer addiction is a relatively new term used to describe a dependency on one's computer. It is not limited to personal computers, but covers video games and the Internet as well. This addiction has already been given a label by psychologists: Internet addiction disorder (IAD).

People can grow addicted to a variety of substances, and there is usually a substantial amount of help available to treat them. Alcohol, drugs, and sex have all been known to bring out the addictive personality trait in some people, but other forms of addictive behavior, such as exercise, watching television, or spending too much time on a computer, have only recently been recognized. Computer addiction, like any addiction, can creep up on a person without him being aware of it. Talk shows are full of people whose relationships have been torn apart by one partner's addiction. Spending hours chatting online, surfing the web, or playing computer games can cause relationships to deteriorate as other parts of a person's life are neglected.

This newly named addiction has gained much press attention recently, as children have also been affected. A recent research study showed that some children experience rage when they are forbidden to play computer games. The results are temper tantrums and behavioral traits similar to those of an addict going cold turkey.

As with most other dependencies, specific questions can be asked to assess whether or not someone may suffer from computer addiction. These questions include assessing how much time is spent on the PC or playing video games, sometimes relative to how much time is spent interacting with real people.

Another way to assess this addiction is to assess a person's quality of life before and after the computer arrived. Many people have lost jobs because they cannot force themselves away from the computer. Constantly logging onto the Internet at work has caused many people to be dismissed, often after repeated warnings were issued. Money is another factor, and some people have gone into debt and lost great amounts of money using online services and chatrooms.

Computer addiction is also sometimes linked to computer gambling. Some people only have access to gambling services through a computer. Not only do such people spend countless hours playing online poker, but they often lose thousands of dollars while playing.

As with any addiction, steps can be taken to treat this problem. Limiting the amount of time spent on the computer or playing video games is a simple step. If a computer is on all the time at home, individuals can switch it off. Guidelines for children suggest allowing no more than one hour per night on the PC or playing video games.

This form of addiction is said to be on the increase. More and more people are spending time in cyberspace in a virtual world of their own making. If not treated, this condition can lead to diminished social skills and deterioration in the addict's quality of life.

The Health Board is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Discussion Comments
By anon1002389 — On Nov 12, 2019

Computers are the ‘enzymes’ of culture; they greatly enhance the speed of human interaction in society.

By anon349641 — On Sep 27, 2013

My everyday life is I go to a place to learn job skills. I leave at 6:20 a.m. I get off my bus at 5:00 p.m. and get to my home, where I just get a shower, etc. Then after that, I stay on my computer. I get off maybe at 7 p.m. for dinner and then get right back on. I get off at usually 12 a.m. or 1 a.m. or later, and still go to where I need to in the morning.

Other than that, I have no friends and no social life. I’ve never had a girlfriend and I am 20 years old. Most people do not have anything else other than using a computer or playing games. You should be able to tell by the times that I stay on my computer for 8 or 9 hours a day, or longer.

People with no social life have nothing to lose. Really, that's how we think. I mean, we do not know anyone who likes us or even understands us and most people hate us. Well, all I have to say is you have no right to be hating us because you were the ones who made us this way. It’s society’s fault the way they cast out people and make them all alone and the only place of refuge is online gaming or being locked up in a room alone. Now when I was younger, I was on my computer almost all day long, like from when I woke up until I went to sleep. I hope you all learn something from this post.

By anon330223 — On Apr 15, 2013

I have destroyed my College education (bsc) with this addiction and after five years, I am still addicted.

By anon313604 — On Jan 13, 2013

I'd been addicted to the internet for years until I had to move to a remote area for a job that had no internet. Being addicted makes anyone panic if they are suddenly cut off from the world. It does scare some people because they don't know how much they are addicted to it.

But since I hardly had any for five months, I kicked it, and I spend time with my family, but being back home, you can get easily addicted again, so I had to make a organize list for my day.

The first thing I do every day is not turn on the computer. If I turned on the computer right when I get up, who knows if I'd get anything else done in my day. I don't turn on my computer until I got whatever my to-do list was for the day unless it required me going to the internet. (Which I do last.)

Always do your exercise, chores and hygiene before turning on your computer. It helps! It won't make you feel that someone is talking to you because you had Skype open, and to make it work, let people know you won't be on the first part of the day because you want to get stuff done before going online.

By anon226307 — On Oct 31, 2011

as people we need to stand for one another.

By anon110193 — On Sep 11, 2010

thanks for this article. it helps me a lot.

By anon100093 — On Jul 28, 2010

I always throw tantrums when my parents take away my laptop.

By anon86818 — On May 26, 2010

Just recently I have been starting to realize that the ridiculous amount of time I spend gaming is not healthy. I end up neglecting my school work, friends (if not online), hygiene and hunger. It's starting to hurt me a lot.

If I don't do something now I am going to be in a hole I can't get out of (as far as school is concerned). I don't want to ignore my boyfriend because he's important to me. I guess it all fell into place when I realized I was more comfortable talking to people in an IM or text then I was out loud -- which can't be good.

I am sick and tired of feeling like I'm stupid when I don't do my homework because I had to start this family in the Sims 2. I have to stop.

Thank you for helping me do that.

By anon75142 — On Apr 05, 2010

I read this topic while studying to a school project. And it got to me. The "Depression, Anger, Guilt, Dishonesty, False Pride" and on.

Parts were like a description of me. no, I'm not a gambler, but a teenager with a serious gaming problem.

This is the first time I've actually come to think about it as a problem. and your, along with a few other topics around the web, may have given me a push in the right direction before it was too late.

the difference is, from you to me, all along I've known it was a bad idea, that i shouldn't play those 30 minutes more than i were allowed to. But it's just so damn hard.

I'll try my best to get off this addiction. Thanks for making me realize it.

By anon26963 — On Feb 22, 2009

Interesting article. I've had an internet addiction for years. I hadn't fully addressed it until my 'niche' went from online gaming to online gambling. I've never been interested in gambling in person but there was something about online poker that really brought out my compulsive behavior. It took me over $200,000 in losses within 3 years to finally realize I have a very bad problem. It is a disease which led me bankrupt financially, emotionally, and physically. I'm mostly concentrating on the gambling, but I'm sure some of these traits are visible with online video games:

Depression, Anger, Guilt, Dishonesty, False Pride, Hatred, Fear, Laziness, Selfishness, Self pity, Impatient

The list can go on...having all these horrible emotions still didn't allow me to get the picture. I had to hit rock bottom in order to realize I'm sick.

I've been sober from online gambling for 6 months and the scars are still very fresh, the sound of a cyber casino or hearing people talk about poker or gambling is enough to make my heart race and a little voice in my head will tell me to play, deposit, win some money.

I will never be cured and I will always be in recovery. I hope from the bottom of my heart that no one will have to suffer the way I have, which led me almost to insanity and at one point, possibly death.

Find a GA meeting, *stick with it*! Admit that gambling had overpowered you. *You're not alone*.

Seek one on one counseling. People are sitting by there phones waiting by there doors for people like us to walk through and get ready to change.

Much more to life than online gambling // internet // video games!!!

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