What is Cyberphobia?

Cyberphobia is a concept introduced in 1985, described as a specific phobia expressed as an irrational fear of or aversion to computers or a more general fear and/or inability to learn about new technologies.

Learning disabilities such as dyslexia may play a role in the formation of Cyberphobia

People who fear computers may also be known as “Luddites”. They are wary of all new technology, and prefer a low-tech approach to living.

Cyberphobia is considered a specific phobia, and is also linked to Technophobia (fear of technology) and Logizomechanophobia (fear of computers).

The root word 'cyber' is English meaning 'virtual reality' or 'information technology', derived from 'cybernetics' and the word 'phobia' comes from the Greek word ‘phóbos’ meaning 'fear.' The earlier origins of the word stem from the Greek 'kubernētēs' meaning 'steersman', a variant of 'kubernan' meaning 'to steer.'

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Symptoms of Cyberphobia

  • Extreme Anxiety, Dread

  • Shortness of Breath
  • Rapid Breathing
  • Heart Palpitations
  • Excessive Sweating
  • Nausea
  • Dry Mouth
  • Confusion / Inability to Articulate Clearly
  • Lack of Focus
  • Irritability
  • Shaking
  • Feelings of Powerlessness
  • Obsession with the Subject of the Phobia
  • Fear or Feelings of Losing Control
  • Avoidance Behavior
  • Headaches

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Causes of Cyberphobia

Cyberphobia is a specific (or “isolated”) phobia, centered on non-social key factors. Isolated phobias tend to have some previous trauma (often in childhood and often physically injurious) as a root cause; a fear of bees may stem from an injury in childhood, for instance.

Upbringing can also play a role, such as parental warnings about a direct threat (such as “snakes can bite and kill you”) which is especially notable in cases where a threat is more imminent. (An allergy to bees or peanut butter, for instance, would naturally reinforce a real medical concern.)

It is thought that genetics and hereditary factors may play a role in specific phobias, especially those related to a danger of injury. (A primal “fight or flight” reflex may be more easily triggered in those with a genetic predisposition, for instance.)

By contrast, social phobias (like a fear of body odor or touch) are less well-understood, are driven by social anxiety, and are broadly labeled as “social anxiety disorder”.

In all kinds of phobias, external experiences and / or reports can further reinforce or develop the fear, such as seeing a family member or friend who is affected. In extreme cases, indirect exposures can be as remote as overhearing a reference in conversation, seeing something in the news, on TV, or in the movies.

Cyberphobia, like most phobias, stems from a subconscious overprotection mechanism, and as with many phobias can also be rooted in an unresolved emotional conflict.

Cyberphobia may develop as a result of lack of facilities with computer technology. Those who did not grow up in the Internet age may be most prone to developing this fear to phobic degrees.

Learn more about the causes of phobias ›

Treatments for Cyberphobia

  • Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT)

  • Habit Strategies To Relax
  • Cognitive Therapy (CT)
  • In Vivo Exposure
  • Response Prevention
  • Hypnotherapy
  • Group Therapy
  • Psychotherapy
  • Energy Psychology
  • Medication
  • Meditation

Learn more about phobia treatments ›

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