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Computer Addiction: Implications for Nursing Psychotherapy Practice


  • Diane M. Wieland, PhD, RN, CS, is an associate professor and director of the Undergraduate Nursing Program at the La Salle University, School of Nursing, Philadelphia, PA and Private Practice, Lansdale, PA.

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TOPIC. Nurse psychotherapists will encounter the impact of today's technology on the daily lives of people including computer addiction. Computer addiction may also present with comorbidities such as depression, gambling, substance abuse, and marital infidelity and divorce.

PURPOSE. This overview article presents what is currently documented in the literature regarding the incidence, symptomatology, and nursing psychotherapy interventions relevant to computer addiction and its treatment. Issues presented include computer addiction, virtual relationships, online marital infidelity, and compulsive online sexual behavior.

SOURCES. Review of literature from Medline, Psychoinfo, CINAHL, and current texts.

CONCLUSIONS.  Given the increased use of computers in today's society, there is the potential for overuse of technology and neglect of others and self as a result of computer addiction. Computer disorders also present themselves as marital or couple discord with the potential for online extramarital affairs and compulsive sexual online behavior. A summary and an assessment tool are provided to guide the nurse psychotherapist in practice.