Sleepless in Cyberspace?


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Lecture notes on Computer Dependency, Internet Addiction and some of the psychological theories behind these issues.

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Sleepless in Cyberspace?

  1. Sleepless in Cyberspace? The Psychology of Computer Dependency Steve Wheeler
  2. Introduction • Some experts state that approximately 1-5% of all Internet users are "addicted.“ • Anyone who uses a computer could be vulnerable, but especially those people who are lonely, shy, easily bored, or suffering from another addiction or impulse control disorder. Source:
  3. Definitions • Addiction: a compulsion to repeat a behaviour regardless of its consequences. • Dependency: a strong need for something, so that without it, the person cannot function properly. • Computer Dependency: relying on computers to fulfil a need or compulsion.
  4. Dependency Checklist • Do you feel preoccupied with the Internet (thinking about previous on-line activity or anticipate next on-line session)? • Do you feel the need to use the Internet with increasing amounts of time in order to achieve satisfaction? • Have you repeatedly made unsuccessful efforts to control, cut back, or stop Internet use? • Do you feel restless, moody, depressed, or irritable when attempting to cut down or stop Internet use? Source:
  5. Dependency Checklist • Do you stay on-line longer than originally intended? • Have you jeopardised or risked the loss of significant relationship, job, educational or career opportunity because of the Internet? • Have you lied to family members, therapist, or others to conceal the extent of involvement with the Internet? • Do you use the Internet as a way of escaping from problems or of relieving a dysphoric mood (e.g., feelings of helplessness, guilt, anxiety, depression)? Source:
  6. Question • What are the possible implications of computer dependency in schools…. • for teachers? • for pupils?
  7. GROUP Exercise In pairs, find out the facts, figures and views on one of the following dependencies: •Video Games •Internet •Chat Rooms •Television •Mobile Phones •E-Mail Time Allowed: about 1 Hour
  8. Video Games • Shotton: “Apart from increasing your manual dexterity and hand-eye co-ordination, video games speed up your neural pathways.” • Schlimme: “…playing violent [video] games may be associated with a tendency to behave more aggressively.” Discuss Source:
  9. • Video Game Statistics (USA) 84 % of teens overall play video/electronic games. 92 % of boys play games. • 90 % of teens say their parents "never" check the ratings before allowing them to rent or buy video games. 8 % say their parents "rarely" check the rating. Only 1 % of teens said their parents had ever kept them from getting a game because of its rating. • 32 % of boys who play video games download them from the Internet. • 89 % of teens (91 % of boys) say that their parents "never" put limits on how much time they may spend playing video games. • The average teen likes a moderate amount of violence in their video games (roughly 5 on a scale of 1 to 10). Among boys only, the average teen likes a fair amount of violence (7 on a scale of 1 to 10). Source: Media Family "Whoever Tells the Stories Defines the Culture", Dr. David Walsh
  10. Two Views • 1: The General Aggression Model, where “Violent media increase aggression by teaching observers how to aggress” (Anderson and Bushman 2001). • 2: The Catharsis Theory, where “Video game playing may be a useful means of coping with (or releasing) pent-up aggression” (Emes 1997). Source:
  11. Albert Bandura (Social learning Theory)
  12. b.f. sKINNER (OPERANT CONDITIONING) • We tend to repeat behaviours that are periodically rewarded. • Responses to postings or e-mails may be [near] instantaneous, reinforcing engagement with discussion groups/chat rooms. See Wallace (1999) The Psychology of the Internet, Chapter 9.
  13. LEON FESTINGER (Social Comparison Theory) • People need to compare their abilities against those of others. • People tend to compete with those with similar status to themselves, and not with those much higher or lower than themselves. • Online gaming and Internet chat are possibly ‘levellers.’
  14. Julian Rotter (LOCUS of CONTROL Theory) • Internal control: used to describe the belief that control of future outcomes resides primarily in oneself • External control: the expectancy that control is outside of oneself, either in the hands of powerful other people or due to fate/chance.
  15. LEON FESTINGER (COGNITIVE DISSONANCE) • We feel uncomfortable doing things that go against our attitudes, beliefs or values. • This tension motivates us to find some way to bring our actions and thoughts into line with our beliefs. • We can’t erase what we have done but we can modify our perception of it.
  16. Abraham maslow (HUMAN NEEDS THEORY)
  17. Abraham maslow (HUMAN NEEDS THEORY) • Rheingold (1996) explained that the ways in which people use CMC always will be rooted in human needs, not hardware and software. He states how "words on a screen are quite capable of moving one to laughter or tears, of evoking anger or compassion, of creating a community from a collection of strangers." Source: netaddiction/articles/habitforming_2.htm
  18. Social Support • • • • • • Companionship/Romance Raised Status (beyond real life) Anonymity Security Affirmation Control Source:
  19. Sleepless in Cyberspace?