Scientific and technological progress caused the emergence of such miracle of modernity as computer and computer technologies by the end of the twentieth century. A modern man is beginning to interact with computer constantly being at home, working in the office or flying in the plane. We cannot disagree with the fact that computers are penetrating into human life rapidly, taking their honorable place in our minds; and we often do not realize that we begin to depend on these expensive pieces of nonferrous metal. Along with the advent of computers there were created the vast majority of computer games, which immediately found a lot of fans. Thus, the phenomenon of human psychological dependence on computer games takes its place in our society. Taking into account the fact that the number of people, who are falling into computer dependency, is growing each passing day, this question requires an examination of the psychological science.
It was proved scientifically that gambling can be addictive, in something resembling alcohol or substance abuse. In the childhood computer dependency usually develops in the case of computer games. In this case, a useful and necessary thing, like computer, is fraught with another danger – the dependency on it. Thus, computer dependency ruins the person’s identity and the person even needs serious psychological help.
Thinking about the term ‘computer dependency’ we can state that it defines a pathological addiction of a person working or spending time at the computer. There even exists the formal term ‘pathological computer use.’ Currently, this term (‘pathological computer use’) is used for the category of persons, who pathologically use computer as a whole, including the non-social use (Wieland, 2005). Mainly dependency on modern computer technology is expressed in two basic forms:
- Internet addiction;
- overreliance on computer games (Clark and Scott, 2009).
My friend, who likes to play computer games told me one day that all computer games can be divided into role-playing games and non-role-playing games. It is very easy to understand the main differences between them, because this separation is based on simple fact: in role-playing games gamer feels that he is the main hero of his own game and it is a kind of self-identification with the hero of the game, but when the game is non-role-playing the person can play in it using different strategically composed games, where there is no one hero, but there are many soldiers, for instance. Having a conversation with my friend I immediately understood that role-playing games are more dangerous in psychological aspect, because they form stable psychological dependence and any young boy or girl, even adult person begin to live with his/her hero’s life in the game, forgetting about own duties and obligations. It seems to me that such games lead to lack of adaptation and violations in the field of mental states, because person thinks only about game and it becomes more interesting to be playing computer than go for a walk with own friends, for example.
Talking with gamer, who plays games for 5 years I understand that he lives in virtual reality, and it seems to me that computer game addict experiences steady demand for the game, but at the same time he cannot be fully satisfied with it, i.e., the person is in a state of frustration, though, he has the opportunity to meet the need.
Let us try to understand what attracts people in computer games, with the exception of the cognitive aspect, why the virtual world becomes closer than the real one, how a computer addiction can be formed and what the path of liberation from it.
Discussing causes of computer dependency with people who play games for months and for years I understood that human, without any doubts, is a thinking being and information for him is far more important than for any other living creatures. But being honest, it seems that the computer is a powerful tool for information processing and storage, in addition, due to computer various types of information are becoming available. Exactly this feature is the most attractive to people suffering from addiction to computers, because in some sense, they suffer in violation of information exchange processes. Young people cannot communicate with each other, they want to change themselves and they receive excellent opportunity to do it during the game.
In continuation to information presented above I have explored that there are two main factors influencing computer dependency and making the virtual world more appealing than the real one. I’m going to call them conditional escape from reality and taking the role on self. When I was trying to play in role-playing game, I begin to understand that there really appears the own world, separated by a world in which identity is based on virtual victories and achievements. For example, one day playing in role-playing game I was disappointed by my first results, but the next day I was really proud of myself, when I have passed the first level and change it on the second one. I begin to think that I’m better than other people and I have created misperceptions about self and the own abilities. I was trying to live in the real world with these ideas, but they immediately destroy it. It turns out that in the ordinary world the value of the computer player is at odds with universal human values, and sometimes directly contradict them.
Preparing this paper and reading different articles about computer dependency I found that psychologists distinguish the following symptoms of the psychological computer dependency:
- well-being or euphoria at the computer;
- the reluctance to distract from work or play on the computer;
- irritation when a person has to distract;
- inability to plan the ending of the session (work or play) with the computer;
- forgetting about home affairs, employment, studies, meetings and agreements in the course of work or play on the computer;
- the neglect of health, hygiene and sleep in favor of more time at the computer;
- people prefer to eat in front of the monitor;
- discussion of computer topics with all more or less knowledgeable in this area people.
My mother has proved me that excessive enthusiasm for the computer may have negative consequences for both physical and mental health and I understood that it is a simple waste of time and it is better to read the book, for example; but I was not computer dependent person – I was only trying to play games for several weeks, not even months. As for the study of computer dependency by constructing analogies with drug addiction, I can assume that this method is quite reasonable and very effective, because the analogy has a place to be. Being a drug addict person needs drugs, but being computer addict person needs computer and all his thoughts about it; frankly speaking, I began to feel something like that, but my mother is a very wise woman and she has explained me dangerous of computer dependency timely.
Discussing the problem of computer dependency with various people who like games, I can mention that all of them have passed several steps to their dependency: the early phase of enthusiasm is a kind of adaptation (the man is ‘tasting’ computer game); then comes the period of rapid growth, and the rapid formation of dependency. All addicts declare with one voice that as a result of growth, depending on the value, it reaches a maximum point and depends on the individual personality traits and environmental factors. Further the power of computer dependency remains stable, then goes down and once again is fixed at a certain level; and only then remains stable for a long time.
Long-term operation of the computer affects many functions of our body: the higher nervous activity, endocrine, immune and reproductive systems, the vision and the musculoskeletal system of the person. In this part of the paper I want to observe social, physical and psychological aspect of the problem of computer dependency. First of all I want to mention that computer dependency in the most negative way impacts on social qualities of any person: friendship, openness and desire to communicate, sense of compassion (when I was playing, I also began to lose friends, because the game was my only interest and people were tired to hear from me only about computers). I also observed (interview gamers with big experience) a strong deterioration of social relations and personal identity, the so-called social maladjustment of the person during brightly expressed computer dependency. Physical aspects of computer dependence are characterized by general exhaustion and chronic fatigue (Young, 1998). Typically, people suffering from computer addiction, neglect sleep and rest (I can to play for hours, when my parents were sleeping, for example, and cannot control me) And finally, psychological aspect shows that computer dependency can reflect on the emotional level, addicts may experience increased aggression, violence and inability to live in the real world, dreaming only about virtual reality.
Thus, it is possible to state that the problem of the negative impact of computer dependency on human health is very broad and multifaceted. In this paper, I have examined only some aspects of the computer dependency, dwelling on its main characteristics, causes of appearance, different types of impact on human health, etc. In conclusion, I strongly believe that computer dependency is a pain of our century and many scientific disciplines should combine their efforts for the purpose to overcome it and protect people from their pathological computer habits when they are trying to live in the virtual world and become dependent on it.
Clark, N. and Scott, S. Game addiction: the experience and the effects. McFarland, 2009.
Shotton, M. Computer Addiction? A Study of Computer Dependency. Taylor & Francis, 1989.
Wieland, D. M. “Computer Addiction: Implications for Nursing Psychotherapy Practice.” Perspectives in Psychiatric Care, Vol. 41, 2005.
Young, K. Caught in the net: how to recognize the signs of Internet addiction–and a winning strategy for recovery. John Wiley and Sons, 1998.