Clay Cutts, L.C.S.W. | Signs and Symptoms of Computer Addiction

Signs and Symptoms of Computer Addiction

computer addictionComputer addiction may sound like so much nonsense to most people. Those people roll their eyes when we talk about the dangers of violent video games or especially Internet Addiction Disorder.

The fact is, they may be right. After all, just a few years ago nobody had ever heard of anything like computer addiction. Of course, that was long before the wide availability of high-speed Internet connections. Also, highly immersive video games such as World of Warcraft and Second Life had yet to see the light of day. Let’s not forget about social networking sites such as Facebook.

What Exactly Is Computer Addiction?

Computer addiction is a loosely used term for the excessive use of computers to the extent that it interferes with daily life. The addiction part of the definition implies behavior similar other addictive disorders such as alcoholism or drug abuse.

Maressa Hecht Orzack, Ph.D. of McLean Hospital in Belmont, MA has long studied addictive behaviors, including computer addiction. She describes this addiction in terms of warning signs, psychological symptoms and physical symptoms.

Warning Sign of Computer Addiction

  • Disregard of normal responsibilities in favor of online activities
  • Irritability when away from computer
  • Loss of sense of time
  • Falling grades or poor performance at work

Psychological Symptoms of Computer Addiction

  • A sense of well-being while at the computer
  • Inability to stop the activity
  • Craving more and more time at the computer
  • Neglect of family and friends
  • Feeling empty while away from the computer
  • Lying about online activities
  • Problems at work or school

Physical Symptoms of Computer Addiction

  • Carpal tunnel syndrome
  • Dry eyes
  • Headaches
  • Back problems
  • Eating irregularities
  • Failure to attend to personal hygiene
  • Sleep disturbances

For me, video game addiction, in the form of online gaming has been a problem. I started playing online roleplaying games more than 10 years ago. Everquest was my first experience with MMORPGs (Massively Multiplayer Online Roleplaying Games). I subsequently played almost every online game available ending with World of Warcraft.

Most of the symptoms above fit me perfectly. I spent a lot of time playing online video games and often lost track of time while doing so. I would log on at 8:00 PM then be surprised when I learned it was 1:00 AM. I could have sworn I was only online for an hour or so. When I was away from the game I was irritable and moody. All of my spare time was spent playing. I ate meals in front of the monitor whenever possible.

Some people think computer addiction is a myth, but not me. I lived with it for several years. For me, the thought processes and behaviors were almost identical to those involved with addiction to substances.

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