The flavors of computer addiction - pick your poison!
There's limited time in a day!
There are 24 hours in a day. If we substract time required for work, sleep and basic needs like food and shower, we are left with only a handful of hours to dedicate to other responsibilities and entertainment.
In the modern world there are dozens of things which compete for our attention. Some, like video games or TV are pleasant, while others, like email feel like responsibilities. There's no addictive substance in each of these activities, yet they can easily take over the person's life!
Many people still refer to all things electronic as "computer", hence the title of this hub. I intend to outline the major modern activities which can be classified as computer addiction!
Computer addiction: video games
Computers have long been used to play video games. Because of their sheer variety and appeal to multiple audiences, it is easy to find a game that you like... And keep playing it! Video game addiction symptoms are fairly well defined!
Computer games existed for a very long time and are split between two camps - single player and multi player. As a rule of thumb, single player games are shorter and multi player games can be played for a very long time! Some people still play StarCraft, Diablo2 and Warcraft 3 after over 10 years!
Video games have taken a new twist with the introduction of online gaming - the games no longer have a well defined "end". This makes stopping playing online video games very difficult!
There are 2 main sources of video game addiction: online games and massively multiplayer online games (MMO).
Internet Addiction: Email
Email is without doubt the biggest time consumer in the modern corporate workplace. It is not uncommon to receive:
- 70 - 100 new emails with action required as a manager
- up to 200 emails as a director
- over to 400 emails as a Vice President or higher
Together this creates a situation where the person's mailbox is growing and there's no opportunity to ever catch up! I've personally met people with over 2000 unread work related emails and heard stories of people with over 10000!
Combined with very fast expected response time (2 hours or less), emails start to quickly eat in to people's productivity. The introduction of modern smart phones only fuels the addiction with emails arriving at all times of the day. Email addiction is characterized by an impulsive need to check email multiple times per day, sometimes even at night. When work related email is involved, the stakes are even higher!
At one point I found myself spending over 30% of my work day just reading and responding to emails! Combine this with the habitual use of meetings and you will realize why so many people eat lunches at their cubicles and stay late to finish work!
Blackberry or "crackberry" addiction is a real condition where a person would be compulsively checking email ever time the device buzzes or pings. Because blackberry is often present, there's no escape from email and over a few weeks or months, the addictive behavior develops!
Social interactions online
- Trillian (software) - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Multi - system chatting software
- Instant Messenger AIM Instant Message Your AIM and Facebook Chat Buddies for Free
AOL Instant messenger
- Weebly - Create a free website and a free blog
Create a free website or blog in minutes by using a simple drag and drop interface. No ads. One of Time's 50 best websites of the year.
- Blogger: Create your free blog
Blogger is a free blog publishing tool from Google for easily sharing your thoughts with the world. Blogger makes it simple to post text, photos and video onto your personal or team blog.
- Posterous - The place to post everything. Just email us. Dead simple blog by email.
Blog by email
Internet Addiction: Social Interactions
Because a PC is still the medium of choice for social interactions online, I think addiction to social interactions online is a form of computer addiction.
Here we have 3 distinct flavors:
Online chat addiction -this is the least serious, yet most time consuming form of social interaction addiction. Instant messages and chat rooms require a person to be at the computer for as long as the conversation lasts! Typically chat sessions are not saved, out of privacy reasons, meaning that these are as simple as normal conversations. A lot of young teenagers love to participate in online chats.
Instant message conversations tend to be short one sentence replies that arrive in a quick succession. To add emotion to message, smiley faces :) are often used.
Because a person can have many friends, it is possible to participate in multiple chats at the same time, totally capturing the person's awareness for many hours!
Forum / bulletin board and newsgroups addiction. I had first hand experience with this. Bulletin boards and forums allow a person to start discussions and other people to post their thoughts. Bulletin boards are more permanent and are usually moderated. Still, there's too much information to digest and a lot of posts (especially the wall of text) are not read!
For bulletin board addiction, the post count, along with special titles (including different colors) and avatars become important. Many bulletin boards develop "nobility" which lived in a forum for a very long time.
Blogging addiction - this involves writing articles and short posts online. These are usually not moderated and allow people to post comments. Some blogs are monetized, meaning they have a promise to make money. It is easy to start looking at the world through "can I post this on my blog" lenses. Having followers creates a sense of duty and responsibility!
Blogging requires the largest amount of time to participate in. This is the natural evolution of the "wall of text" from the bulletin board days.
Hubpages, squidoo and ezine are similar to blogging, although they offer more potential for profit and make good use of statistics (the hubscore!)
See whats happening on MySpace! Find friends & classmates, meet new people, listen to free music & build playlists, share photos, watch videos, start a blog, read celebrity news, get cool apps, free IM & more
Facebook is a social utility that connects people with friends and others who work, study and live around them. People use Facebook to keep up with friends, upload an unlimited number of photos, post links and videos, and learn more about the people
Somewhere between texting, chatting and blogging lies social networking. These sites like facebook, twitter, linked in and myspace allow people to get connected with people online.
When this activity turns into addiction, the friend count becomes the priority, and the interactions themselves are forgotten!
One of the recent trends on social networking is the status updates - this lets people share what they do in the form of posts, status messages or short texts.
The cell phone industry seems to play into this addiction by creating mobile devices which allow people to follow status updates from different people even when away from a computer!
To me, it seems like the crackberry addiction is about to take on a whole new form!
- FOX on Demand
Watch Fox shows any time
- TV Links
Used to be a great place to find TV online
- Free Videos Online - Watch TV Online - Free Video Clips | Veoh
Veoh features millions of online videos including free TV shows, movies, music, and more. Upload and share your videos on Veoh the video sharing network.
- YouTube - Broadcast Yourself.
YouTube is a place to discover, watch, upload and share videos.
Internet addiction: TV and video
With the availability of high speed internet in most of the western world, sharing videos became possible. This created a new trend to post videos online.
TV addiction. There are multiple television series being aired online. Some of them are available for viewing online, any time. Some people download videos illegally.
A subset of this is the infamous porn addiction, which involves downloading certain other kinds of videos.
Because there's so many videos available online, it is entirely possible to get addicted to online video! I spent entire days watching episodes of south park, 24, futurama, american dad, family guy online. Add these up and you can see that online videos can up a lot of time!
- Pandora Radio - Listen to Free Internet Radio, Find New Music
Pandora radio is the personalized internet radio service that helps you find new music based on your old and current favorites. Create custom web radio stations, listen free.
- Digitally Imported Radio
A variety of electronic music
Internet addiction: Audio and Radio
There are dozens of radio stations and podcasts available online. Because listening is separate from vision, it is entirely possible to browse the internet while listening to radio. The two examples are: Pandora and DI.FM, although there are many others!
After a while, turning on the music while doing some form of internet activity becomes a habit.
Radio addiction is hard to notice, because it does not disrupt your other activities that much.
Did I miss anything?
At some point in my life I actively participated in all of these activities.