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Computer Anxiety

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This presentation was given to students and staff of the University of the Philippines (Manila) College of Medicine, May 30, 2015. Computer anxiety is an intense fear of using computers. Computers are avoided at all cost, and exposure to computers induces a panic attack. This presentation goes into detail about what it is, how it evolves, and how to treat it.

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Computer Anxiety

  1. 1. Computer Anxiety University of the Philippines (Manila) College of Medicine May 30, 2015 Carlo Carandang, MD, FAPA Psychiatrist
  2. 2. Specific Phobia  Computer anxiety is a type of specific phobia  A specific phobia is an intense fear of an object or situation  The feared object is avoided at all cost  Exposure to the feared object induces panic attack
  3. 3. What is Computer Anxiety?  Computer anxiety is an intense fear of using computers  Computers are avoided at all cost  Exposure to computers induces panic attack – Racing heart beat, heart palpitations, chest pain, shortness of breath, sweaty palms, muscle tension, headaches, nausea, and chills
  4. 4. What are the Fears?  Fear of breaking the computer or pushing the wrong key  Fear of losing data  Embarrassment that they are not familiar with computers  Computer hassles and frustrations with bugs and databases changing (Kohrman 2003)
  5. 5. Prevalence  5% of general population – Weinberg and Fuerust, 1984  21.3% of managers and professionals – Bozionelos, 1996
  6. 6. Bozionelos 2001 Study  Prevalence of computer anxiety – Sample 1 (managers): 21.1% – Sample 2 (graduate students): 40.3% – Sample 3 (undergrads): 46.4%  Significant difference between managers and younger samples – P<0.01 Sample 1 and 2 – P<0.001 Sample 1 and 3 – P>0.05 Sample 2 and 3
  7. 7. Prevalence  Youngest cohort with earliest exposure to computers reported highest rate of computer anxiety  Take home message- even with conservative estimate of 5%, computer anxiety affects many people, with resultant disability considering the ubiquity of computers
  8. 8. Screening for Computer Anxiety  6-Item Computer Anxiety Scale  Mean 13.4 (SD 5.1)  If score above 18, then you may have computer anxiety Lester et al., 2005
  9. 9. Triggers  You have Computer Anxiety  Triggers: – See feared object or situation – Hear (talking about) feared object or situation – Think about feared object or situation  Event induces thoughts about the event
  10. 10. Thoughts  Thoughts: – “I will break the computer” – “I will push the wrong key” – “I will lose data” – “I will embarrass myself using a computer” – “Computers are a hassle”
  11. 11. Anxiety  Thoughts induce anxiety  Feelings – Anxiety – Fear – Physical effects of adrenaline response, fight or flight response
  12. 12. Avoidance  Anxiety makes you avoid  Behaviors – Avoid feared object or situation – Flee, escape
  13. 13. Avoidance  Although the avoidant behaviors decrease your anxiety over the short-term, the behaviors actually maintain your overall anxiety from the feared stimulus  Avoidance maintains the belief in the danger and direness of events
  14. 14. Vicious, negative cycle continues  Feared stimulus induces thoughts, which induces anxiety, which compels you to avoid  Instead of just exposing yourself to the trigger and finding out nothing bad will occur, you avoid the trigger and this maintains your belief in the danger  With avoidance, you never get to find out that the anxiety will go away naturally if you just stay with your trigger
  15. 15. Solution: CBT  CBT helps to break the negative cycle of Computer Anxiety by changing how you think and what you do  It is difficult to change the way you feel, so the focus is on changing the way you think and the way you do things  Avoidance is addressed via graduated exposure therapy – Systematic desensitization
  16. 16. Fear Hierarchy
  17. 17. Treatment  Prescription medications are not effective for specific phobia, and therefore not effective for computer anxiety  Exposure therapy is the most effective clinical intervention for computer anxiety  Complementary interventions – Progressive muscle relaxation – Diaphragmatic breathing – Yoga
  18. 18. Computer Anxiety in Classroom  Computer anxiety can be reduced by providing a comfortable learning environment  To create comfortable learning environment, teachers should: – Use humor, make it fun – Use basic concepts – Avoid computer jargon – Make all computer lessons hands-on (Ayersman & Reed, 1995)
  19. 19. AnxietyBoss.com  For more information and help on Computer Anxiety and other anxiety problems, please visit AnxietyBoss.com

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