Some people develop bad habits in their computer use that cause them significant problems in their lives. The types of behavior and negative consequences are similar to those of known addictive disorders; therefore, the term Computer or Internet Addiction has come into use.
While anyone who uses a computer could be vulnerable, those people who are lonely, shy, easily bored, or suffering from other addiction or impulse control disorder are especially vulnerable to computer abuse.
Computer abuse can result from people using it repeatedly as their main stress reliever, instead of having a variety of ways to cope with negative events and feelings. Other misuses can include procrastination from undesirable responsibilities, distraction from being upset, and attempts to meet needs for companionship and belonging.
The Signs of Problematic Computer Use
A person who is “addicted” to the computer is likely to have several of the warning signs listed below: How many of them describe you?
You make unsuccessful efforts to quit or limit your computer use.
You lose track of time while on the computer.
You neglect friends, family and/or responsibilities in order to be online.
You find yourself lying about the amount of time spent on the computer and what you do while on it.
You feel anxious, depressed, or irritable when your computer time is shortened or interrupted.
You use the computer repeatedly as an outlet when sad, upset, or for sexual gratification.
You develop problems on the job or with your family as a result of the time spent and the type of activities accessed on the computer.
When you are not on the computer, you think about it frequently and anticipate when you will use it again.
Internet addiction can also be seen when the person compulsively downloads pornography or sexually explicit materials, has ‘cyber” affairs with others, and sends inappropriate images of themselves to others, etc. It is a real issue and affects every aspect of a person’s life. In fact, the internet has become one of the leading causes of divorce in the US.
How to Help Computer Obsessed Friends
Be a good role model. Manage the computer use in your own life well.
Introduce them to some other people who handle their computer use sensibly.
Get them involved in some non-computer related fun.
Talk to your friends about your concerns with their computer use.
Support their desire for change if they think they have a problem.
Encourage them to seek professional counseling.
Don’t wait until the person’s marriage or other relationships have fallen apart or they have created irreparable damage to their work or personal finances.
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