Let us begin by defining computer addiction. Computer
addiction is a dependency on computers in which someone uses computers
so much as to compromise one's physical and/or psychological health.
The first question that one
might ponder upon hearing a strong expression like “computer addiction”
is whether or not computer dependency is serious enough to warrant
the use of such a term. A few paragraphs taken from Peter Mitchell
of The Lancet offer an explanation:
The existence of internet addiction as a
discrete disorder was first proposed, albeit not entirely seriously,
in 1995 by Ivan Goldberg, a New York psychiatrist. But it was
a 1996 study by Kimberly Young of the University of Pittsburgh
( Bradford , PA , USA ) that triggered the controversy. Young
reported that 396 out of 496 self-selected regular internet users
were dependent on the internet (CyberPsychology and Behavior 1998;
1: 237-42; www.netaddiction.com/articles/newdisorder.htm).
One should read Young's study with skepticism because her sample sample was "self-selected." Statistical studies should be carried out randomly so as to prevent a response bias. It is highly likely that those who chose to respond to this survey were not accurately representative of the population as a whole because those who responded had some vested interest in the subject. Mitchell, however, continutes:
Oliver Seemann of Ludwig-Maximilians University
Psychiatric Clinic ( Munich , Germany ) believes that internet
addiction is a real psychological disorder that--like all dependencies--is
often linked with serious co-morbidities. "Yes, there is
a lot of scepticism about the diagnosis", he says. "The
main argument used against it is that other psychiatric illnesses
lead to a misuse of the internet. But that is also true of other
In a recent, more rigorous
online survey of 809 internet users, Seemann, Ulrich Hegerl, and
colleagues found only 20 people who fulfilled the ICD-10 criteria
of an addiction syndrome (such as withdrawal symptoms, increasing
tolerance, and loss of control). "Our patients often complain
about typical withdrawal symptoms such as nervousness, agitation,
and aggression", he explains. In addition, some studies have
shown that playing games on the internet, a frequent internet
addiction mode, leads to dopamine release in the nucleus accumbens.
This is thought to be an important neurochemical event in the
generation of addiction, says Seemann...
Just as there are different
reasons for retreating into an internet-centred world, so the
nature of internet over-use varies. Older addicts and women, says
Orzack, are usually drawn to "chat rooms"--conversation
groups in which people can anonymously exchange private messages,
often for many hours, and often on sexual themes. Younger patients
and men are more often drawn to games--for example, interactive
role-playing games--and to pornographic websites. (Mitchell, 632, 2000)
Psychologists have yet to reach a consensus about computer addiction.
"As yet, there is no official psychological or psychiatric
diagnosis of an "Internet" or "Computer" addiction. The most recent
(4th) edition of Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders
(aka, DSM-IV)," (Suler, 359, 2004).