Computer Stress Syndrome

Community Member

Do you ever feel so frustrated with technical problems that you want to just throw your computer against the wall? Do you experience frustration over gadget glitches and computer crashes? Do you feel anxiety   at the thought of losing data or having to reinstall all your programs? Do you dread the thought of having to call tech support only to be put on hold for an hour? These are but some of the possible "symptoms" of what some are calling Computer Stress Syndrome.

Yes I know. Yet another anxiety syndrome. I can see you rolling your eyes from here. It makes a lot of sense, however, that many of us feel anxious about technology. Why? One reason is that we depend so much upon our gizmos and gadgets. A second cause for our technical anxiety is that there is a great potential for computers and other devices to break. The third catalyst for our distress is the fact that when things do break, most of us are not offered much help to fix the problem. Calling tech support may induce more stress   in long waits and sometimes inadequate resolution of the problem. These factors can ratchet up our daily anxiety. One think tank has simply put a name to this technology induced stress.

A survey of 1,000 American computer users by a Customer Experience Board conducted by the Chief Marketing Officer Council was published in a 2010 report entitled, Combating Computer Stress Syndrome. This report validates the theory that our technical devices including computers can be the cause of great stress. Here are just some of their findings:

  • Ninety-four percent of consumers reported that they depend upon their computer in their personal life.

  • Two-thirds of survey respondents (64%) reported that their computer has caused them anguish or anxiety (Computer Stress Syndrome). This was despite the fact that 78% of those surveyed described themselves as computer savvy.

  • Four in every ten computer users will experience a system failure at least once in a 12-month period of time.

  • These technical system failures result in user stress due to lost work time, loss of data, and interrupted connectivity.

  • Computer problems caused 62% of surveyed consumers to contact tech support within the year. Of the people who called tech support, 41% were not happy with their experience. Respondents cited long waits, costly service, language barriers, and an inadequate resolution of their problem as the source of their dissatisfaction.

When I discovered this report on-line my first reaction to the survey results was, "I can feel your pain." Recently I was prompted to update one of my technical devices which resulted in an erasure of all my data. Everything was wiped clean. Months of meticulous organization was gone in an instant. Not to mention the great loss of time and energy. I blankly stared at the screen in denial. A panic set in as I exhausted every known possibility to bring my device back to life and restore my valuable data and applications. Like many of the survey respondents, I was reluctant to call tech support. I would much rather solve the problem myself than go through the hassle of asking for what I presumed would be inadequate help. My instincts were right as I was told that my 90 days of free support were up and that it would cost me $29.95 for five minutes of tech support. I could not help but respond, "You have got to be kidding me I lost my data because of your update!" My technical advisor explained that, "Technically"this is a technical problem." Translation: You are not getting any help without paying at least $30 bucks. My rants only gained me some canned empathy. Their verbal consolation was that "sometimes technical things break." Oh now I feel so much better. Not.

Sometimes I think about the days when we didn't have computers. Were we less stressed? Some of us can remember a time without cell phones, personal computers, or video games. Now we cannot imagine our lives without these devices. Murray Feingold, the physician who created the term, Computer Stress Syndrome, describes computers as a double edged sword. We like computers and our gadgets when they are functioning as expected but when things go wrong we become anxious and stressed. Living with machines is not always so easy.

We would love to hear from you now. Do you suffer from anxiety related to technology? Do you experience stress due to computer related issues? How do we cope with the stress associated with living in this digital age? Share your thoughts and opinions. We are listening!