Computer addiction is a form of behavioral addiction[1] that can be described as the excessive or compulsive use of the computer, which persists despite serious negative consequences for personal, social, or occupational function.[2] Another clear conceptualization is made by Block, who stated that "Conceptually, the diagnosis is a compulsive-impulsive spectrum disorder that involves online and/or offline computer usage and consists of at least three subtypes: excessive gaming, sexual preoccupations, and e-mail/text messaging".[3] Computer addiction is not currently included in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) as an official disorder.[4] The concept of computer addiction is broadly divided into two types, namely offline computer addiction, and online computer addiction. Offline computer addiction is normally used when speaking about excessive gaming behavior, which can be practiced both offline and online.[5] Online computer addiction, also known as Internet addiction, gets more attention in general from scientific research than offline computer addiction, mainly because most cases of computer addiction are related to the excessive use of the Internet.[2]

Experts on Internet addiction have described this syndrome as an individual working intensely on the Internet, prolonged use of the Internet, uncontrollable use of the Internet, unable to use the Internet in an efficient, timely matter, not being interested in the outside world, not spending time with people from the outside world, and an increase in their loneliness and dejection.[6]



Excessive computer use may result in, or occur with:


Kimberly Young[9] indicates that previous research links internet/computer addiction with existing mental health issues, most notably depression. She states that computer addiction has significant effects socially, such as low self-esteem, psychologically and occupationally, which led many subjects to academic failure.

According to a Korean study on internet/computer addiction, pathological use of the internet results in negative life impacts such as job loss, marriage breakdown, financial debt, and academic failure. 70% of internet users in Korea are reported to play online games, 18% of whom are diagnosed as game addicts, which relates to internet/computer addiction. The authors of the article conducted a study using Kimberly Young's questionnaire. The study showed that the majority of those who met the requirements of internet/computer addiction experienced interpersonal difficulties and stress and that those addicted to online games specifically responded that they hoped to avoid reality.[10]


Computers nowadays rely almost entirely on the internet, and thus relevant research articles relating to internet addiction may also be relevant to computer addiction.


According to Prof. Jordana N. Navarro et al. Cyberstalking is known as a behavior that includes but not limited to internet or technology use to stalk or harass an individual over time and in a menacing fashion. Cyberstalking has been on the rise since the 1990s. These cryptic behaviors are also noticeable. Many of the cyberstalking cases are from people that do not know each other. Cyberstalkers are not limited to geographical boundaries, research has suggested various impulses in cyberstalking aside from excreting power and control over the target. Internet addiction and cyberstalking share several key traits that should lend support to new investigations to further scrutinize the relationship between the two disorders. Studies have shown that cyberstalkers can have different motives, but these results are not necessarily indicative of mental health issues. A cyberstalker is usually an emotionally damaged individual, a loner who seeks attention, gratification, and connection and in the process becomes infatuated with someone (Navarro et al. 2015)

Diagnostic Test

Many studies and surveys are being conducted to measure the extent of this type of addiction. Kimberly Young has created a questionnaire based on other disorders to assess the level of addiction. It is called the Internet Addict Diagnostic Questionnaire or IADQ. The questionnaire asks users about their online usage habits as well as their feelings about their internet usage. According to the IADQ sample, Internet Addiction resembles that of a Gambling disorder. Answering positively to five out of the eight questions on the IADQ may be indicative of online addiction.[17]

According to the article "Validating the Distinction between Computer Addiction and Engagement: Online Game Playing and Personality", the authors introduced a test to help identify the differences between addiction and engagement. Based on similar ideas, here are some ways to distinguish between computer engagement and addiction.[18]

Computer engagement: Computer addiction:
I would not think about computers when I am doing other important things I would ignore valued things because I am interested in my computer
I would not give up my work or school day because I want to spend more time on a computer I would sometimes give up my friends or family gathering because I am interested in my computer
I would not think about the computer when I am not using it I would not be able to focus on my work or study because I am interested in my computer
I would not be anxious if I were told to not use a computer I would be anxious if I were told to not use a computer
I would succeed if I want to reduce the time that I spend on a computer I would not succeed if I want to reduce the time that I spend on a computer
My schedule would not be affected by a computer I often stay up at night because I want to spend more time on the computer
I don't think that I am addicted to computer I think that I am addicted to computer

Origin of the term and history

Observations about the addictiveness of computers, and more specifically, computer games date back at least to the mid-1970s. Addiction and addictive behavior were common among the users of the PLATO system at the University of Illinois.[19] British e-learning academic Nicholas Rushby suggested in his 1979 book, An Introduction to Educational Computing, that people can be addicted to computers and experience withdrawal symptoms. The term was also used by M. Shotton in 1989 in her book Computer Addiction. However, Shotton concludes that the 'addicts' are not truly addicted. Dependency on computers, she argues, is better understood as a challenging and exciting pastime that can also lead to a professional career in the field. Computers do not turn gregarious, extroverted people into recluses; instead, they offer introverts a source of inspiration, excitement, and intellectual stimulation. Shotton's work seriously questions the legitimacy of the claim that computers cause addiction.

The term became more widespread with the explosive growth of the Internet, as well the availability of the personal computer.[20] Computers and the Internet both started to take shape as a personal and comfortable medium that could be used by anyone who wanted to make use of it. With that explosive growth of individuals making use of PCs and the Internet, the question started to arise whether or not misuse or excessive use of these new technologies could be possible as well. It was hypothesized that, like any technology aimed specifically at human consumption and use, abuse could have severe consequences for the individual in the short term and the society in the long term.[21] In the late nineties people who made use of PCs and the internet were already referred to the term webaholics or cyberholics. Pratarelli et al. suggested at that point already to label "a cluster of behaviors potentially causing problems" as a computer or Internet addiction.[20]

There are other examples of computer overuse that date back to the earliest computer games. Press reports have furthermore noted that some Finnish Defence Forces conscripts were not mature enough to meet the demands of military life and were required to interrupt or postpone military service for a year. One reported source of the lack of needed social skills is an overuse of computer games or the Internet. Forbes termed this overuse "Web fixations", and stated that they were responsible for 12 such interruptions or deferrals over the 5 years from 2000 to 2005.[22]

See also


  1. ^ Serenko, A.; Turel, O. (2020). "Directing technology addiction research in information systems: Part I. Understanding behavioral addictions" (PDF). The DATA BASE for Advances in Information Systems. 51 (3): 81–96. doi:10.1145/3410977.3410982.
  2. ^ a b Pies, R (2009). "Should DSM-V Designate "Internet Addiction" a Mental Disorder?". Psychiatry. 6 (2): 31–37. PMC 2719452. PMID 19724746.
  3. ^ Block, J. J. (1 March 2008). "Issues for DSM-V: Internet Addiction". American Journal of Psychiatry. 165 (3): 306–7. doi:10.1176/appi.ajp.2007.07101556. PMID 18316427.
  4. ^ Răşcanu, Ruxandra; Marineanu, Corina; Marineanu, Vasile; Sumedrea, Cristian Mihai; Chitu, Alexandru (May 2013). "Teenagers and their Addiction to Computer". Procedia - Social and Behavioral Sciences. 78: 225–229. doi:10.1016/j.sbspro.2013.04.284.
  5. ^ Lemmens, Jeroen S.; Valkenburg, Patti M.; Peter, Jochen (26 February 2009). "Development and Validation of a Game Addiction Scale for Adolescents". Media Psychology. 12 (1): 77–95. doi:10.1080/15213260802669458. S2CID 18931382.
  6. ^ Yellowlees, Peter; Marks (May 2007). "Problematic Internet use or Internet addiction?". Computers in Human Behavior. 23 (3): 1447–1453. doi:10.1016/j.chb.2005.05.004.
  7. ^ "Computer/Internet Addiction Symptoms, Causes and Effects". An American Addiction Centers Resource.
  8. ^ Wieland, Diane M. (2005). "Computer Addiction: Implications for Nursing Psychotherapy Practice". Perspectives in Psychiatric Care. 41 (4): 153–161. doi:10.1111/j.1744-6163.2005.00038.x. PMID 16297020.
  9. ^ Young, Kimberly S.; Rogers, Robert C. (1998). "The Relationship Between Depression and Internet Addiction". CyberPsychology & Behavior. 1: 25–28. doi:10.1089/cpb.1998.1.25.
  10. ^ Whang, Leo Sang-Min; Lee, Sujin; Chang, Geunyoung (2003). "Internet Over-Users' Psychological Profiles: A Behavior Sampling Analysis on Internet Addiction". CyberPsychology & Behavior. 6 (2): 143–50. doi:10.1089/109493103321640338. PMID 12804026.
  11. ^ "Computer Game Addiction". Berkeley Parents Network. Archived from the original on 15 April 2012. Retrieved 25 June 2007.
  12. ^ Hauge, Marney R.; Douglas A. Gentile (April 2003). Video game addiction among adolescents: Associations with academic performance and aggression (PDF). Society for Research in Child Development Conference, Tampa Florida. Archived from the original (PDF) on 7 April 2009. Retrieved 25 June 2007.
  13. ^ Tanner, Lindsey (22 June 2007). "Is video-game addiction a mental disorder?". Associated Press. Retrieved 2009-05-09.
  14. ^ Wang, Z.; Tchernev, J. M.; Solloway, T. (2012). "A dynamic longitudinal examination of social media use, needs, and gratifications among college students". Computers in Human Behavior. 28 (5): 1829–1839. doi:10.1016/j.chb.2012.05.001. S2CID 639979.
  15. ^ Morahan-Martin, J.; Schumacher, P. (2003). "Loneliness and social uses of the internet". Computers in Human Behavior. 19 (6): 659–671. doi:10.1016/S0747-5632(03)00040-2. S2CID 16933593.
  16. ^ Marche, Stephen (May 2012). "Is Facebook Making Us Lonely?". The Atlantic. Archived from the original on May 31, 2012. Retrieved December 3, 2022.
  17. ^ Young, Kimberly. "Internet Addiction Test (IAT) Sample" (PDF). Stoelting. Archived from the original (PDF) on 23 November 2018. Retrieved 15 November 2018.
  18. ^ Charlton, JohnP., and IanD. W. Danforth. "Validating the Distinction between Computer Addiction and Engagement: Online Game Playing and Personality." Behaviour & Information Technology, vol. 29, no. 6, Nov. 2010, pp. 601–13. EBSCOhost,
  19. ^ Brian Dear, Chapter 21 -- Coming of Age, The Friendly Orange Glow, Pantheon Books, New York, 2017; see pages 381-387 for a discussion of addiction on PLATO, page 382 quotes a 1975 article from The Daily Illini that discusses the subject.
  20. ^ a b Pratarelli, Marc E.; Browne, Blaine L.; Johnson, Kimberly (June 1999). "The bits and bytes of computer/internet addiction: A factor analytic approach". Behavior Research Methods, Instruments, and Computers. 31 (2): 305–314. doi:10.3758/BF03207725. PMID 10495815.
  21. ^ Robert H. Anderson, Center for Information Revolution Analyses (1995). Universal access to e-mail : feasibility and societal implications. Santa Monica, Calif.: Rand. ISBN 9780833023315.
  22. ^ Lea Goldman (2005-09-05). "This Is Your Brain on Clicks". Forbes. Archived from the original on 2007-12-07. Retrieved 2007-07-17.

Works cited

  • Dawn Heron. "Time To Log Off: New Diagnostic Criteria For Problematic Internet Use", University of Florida, Gainesville, published in Current Psychology, April 2003 [1][permanent dead link] (Identifies incessant posting in chat rooms as a form of emotional disorder).
  • Orzack, Maressa H. Dr. (1998). "Computer Addiction: What Is It?" Psychiatric Times XV(8).
  • Shotton, MA (1989), Computer Addiction? A study of computer dependency. New York: Taylor & Francis.
  • Cromie, William J. Computer Addiction Is Coming On-line. HPAC - Harvard Public Affairs & Communications. Web. 20 Oct. 2010. Computer Addiction Is Coming On-line (Explains symptoms and other various attributes of the new disease).
  • UTD Counseling Center: Self-Help:Computer Addiction. Home Page - The University of Texas at Dallas. Web. 20 Oct. 2010. UTD Counseling Center: Self-Help:Computer Addiction.
  • (n.d.). Computer Addiction. Retrieved December 5, 2013, from Computer Addiction - Signs, Symptoms, Support & Treatment