Like HowStuffWorks on Facebook!

How Computer Addiction Works


Recognizing Computer Addiction
Many computer addicts hide their computer use from family and friends.
Many computer addicts hide their computer use from family and friends.
Photodisc/Getty Images

Much of our understanding of computer addiction comes from decades of research on other addictions, like alcoholism or gambling addiction. Psychologists have identified several danger signs for computer addiction. Any of these signs would be a red flag, and multiple signs could mean there's a real problem.

  • Staying on the computer for much longer than intended, or not noticing the passage of time while using the computer
  • Making conscious efforts to cut back on computer time and repeatedly failing
  • Thinking frequently about the computer when not using it or constantly looking forward to the next opportunity to use it
  • Hiding the extent of computer use from family and friends
  • Using the computer as an escape when feeling depressed or stressed
  • Missing events or opportunities or failing at non-computer-related tasks because of time spent on the computer. This could include poor job performance or missing out on family activities [source: Young].
  • Continued excessive computer use despite incurring negative consequences, such as marital problems or getting in trouble at work due to computer use [source: Henderson]

More to Explore