March 2, 2000
There once was a time when the only computers known to the average person were those the military possessed. Eventually, large corporations found many different uses for computers in the business world, and today, computers are as common in numerous households around the globe. People from all age groups are learning to operate computers and anyone who has worked with computers for long periods of time knows that computers can be just as addicting as smoking. Computer addiction can have a number of physical, social, and psychological effects on a person and it is to be taken as seriously as any other addiction that a person is battling.
One common physical effect computer addiction can have on a person are back problems. Sitting for so long can take a toll on a person’s muscles and can result in poor posture. Poor posture can result in chronic back problems that require the services of a chiropractor. Dry eyes, carpal tunnel syndrome, and vision complications are some eye problems caused by over use of a computer. Migraine headaches are quite common in computer addiction and are linked to the straining of the eyes. Because of the long hours spent engrossed in a computer, addicts often have eating irregularities, such as skipping meals and binge eating. Computer addicts experience sleep disturbances, or changes in sleeping patterns, which are most likely due to late hours on the computer and low blood sugar from eating irregularities. One last effect is the failure to attend to personal hygiene, such as bathing, combing hair and brushing teeth. All of these physical effects can be linked to computer addiction.
Social effects of computer addiction include reduced time spent socializing with others. People may begin to feel that their computer is the only relationship that they have the time to focus on. They lose the desire for human contact and communication and in a way they are breaking away from reality. Lacking the desire to make contact with others, means lacking the desire to create new relationships or to build on already existing ones. After a certain amount of time, they lose their conversation skills completely. Within the lives of computer addicts it is their friends and family that suffer the most from this form of alienation. They are often moved to the very bottom of the computer addict’s list of priorities. Computer addiction has the power to cause serious social effects and cannot be left untreated.
Along with the physical and social effects of computer addiction there are also psychological effects. Some psychological symptoms experienced by computer addicts when they are not at the computer are feelings of depression, emptiness, irritability, distraction and withdrawal. Feelings that are common when addicts are at the computer are a sense of euphoria or well-being. These senses of complete ecstasy and pleasure also causes and inability for people who are addicted to computers to stop the activity. They end up having a constant craving for more time at the computer, and this is where one can identify an addiction. Along with addiction comes a need to cover up their secret and computer addicts often lie to those around them. For example lying to employers, and family members about their hours spent at the computer and also denying they have a problem. This lying a sneaking around eventually results in problems either at school or at work. The psychological effects of computer addiction may not only lead to distraction and emptiness but may also lead to critical depression.
When people think of addictions, no one ever thinks of computer addiction to actually be common. In this age of computers, computer addiction will only increase as time passes. More and more people will experience the physical, social, and psychological effects of computer addiction but, thankfully, like other addictions, this condition is treatable.
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