Computers are everywhere. There are computers, tablets and smartphones all around us. Information is accessible 24-7. So how can you turn it off? Computers can be fun, but they can also stop you from enjoying your life.
According to Oxford, an addiction is a dependency on a particular substance or activity. The individual cannot function without using a substance or engaging in the activity. In this case, the activity is the computer. Ask yourself if you have any of the following symptoms (DSM IV-TR, 2000) and see if your computer addiction is unhealthy.
1. You only socialize online. Computers have made it so easy to socialize with people around the world. But, it can also keep you from connecting with people offline. Do you stay home all the time avoiding face-to-face time?
2. You lose sleep over what you may be missing out on. Like small children wonder how much fun their parents are having after they go to bed, computer addicts may worry about what’s going on in cyberspace while they sleep. Instead of sleeping, worry keeps them up and online.
3. You worry when you’re not online. Anxiety is part of the addictive pattern. Worrying about what’s happening when you can’t access a computer (ie while commuting or bathing) can be intrusive and debilitating. It can keep you from focusing on work, school, family and/or friends.
4. You get upset when people criticize how much time you spend online. If concerned friends and family talk to you about your time online and you get angry, you may have a computer addiction. Defensiveness and denial are common signs of addiction.
5. You try to cover it up. Because your friends and family upset you, you try to hide your activity online. Rather than use a desktop or laptop, you may invest in a tablet or smartphone to feed your computer addiction.
6. You feel guilty for not being able to turn off the computer. After realizing how intrusive and debilitating computer addiction is, you may want to stop, but you can’t. And the difficulty in not being able to stop makes you feel guilty.
All of these symptoms are signs that you may have a computer addiction. If you feel you have a problem shutting off the computer, get help. You can go to your doctor or through your insurance company for a referral for treatment.