Problem

Computer stress


Experimental visualization of narrower problems
Other Names:
Technostress
Nature:
The computer is a highly technological tool and its introduction into the lives of people who are unprepared for it causes stress. High levels of stress are especially observed in office environment where the lack of control over job activities introduced by computerization and the increased workload lead to less worker interaction, greater performance monitoring and less worker participation. As control activities decrease, the perception of monotony increases. The computer system technology is designed without regard to the human factor in the system. In essence, the design reflects the computer capabilities and performance functions which are then imposed on the operator. This leads to a dehumanization of the work activity that is comparable to that produced by the introduction of assembly lines in manufacturing industries. In fact, many offices become paper factories with clerical assembly lines in which the work content is simplified to increase production and capitalize on computer capabilities. These jobs produce boredom and dissatisfaction. Such a work environment also brings about worker fears that further automation and computerization of their job may lead to job loss or downgrading to a lower level job.

Working conditions in computer rooms frequently leave much to be desired: they may be too noisy, too warm, or unpleasant (temperature, humidity). Outside the computer room, the display/keyboard workplace, in particular, can cause medical complaints: reflections on the screen and bad contrast can give rise to eye fatigue and headaches. Wrongly designed furniture can cause pain in the neck and back. Aspects of a more psychological nature are: monotonous work in an isolated position, frustration caused by waiting times and the requirement of intense concentration (air traffic control).

Another disturbing aspect is the potential of computers for storing personal information about workers for use (and abuse) by management, thus creating a climate of control and mistrust.

Incidence:
Computer-related stress leads to absenteeism and a high turnover rate (25% to 50% in data processing).
Claim:
Techno-stress manifests itself in two distinct but related ways: in the struggle to accept computer technology, and in over identification of computer technology. The primary symptom of those who are ambivalent about or fearful of computers is anxiety. This anxiety is expressed in many ways: irritability, headaches, nightmares, resistance to learning about computers or outright rejection of the technology. The primary symptom among those who have too successfully identified with computer technology is a loss of the capacity to feel and to relate to others. Signs of this techno-centred state include a high degree of factual thinking, poor access to feelings, an insistence on efficiency and speed, a lack of empathy for others, and a low tolerance for the ambiguities of human behaviour and communication. At its most serious, this form of techno-stress can cause aberrant and antisocial behaviour an the inability to think intuitively and creatively.
Values:
Stress
Problem Type:
E: Emanations of other problems
Related UN Sustainable Development Goals:
GOAL 3: Good Health and Well-being
Date of last update
25.03.1999 – 00:00 CET