Individuals who are anxious about computers may be at a disadvantage in their learning. This investigation focused on the use of home computers for educational purposes. It compared computer anxiety in adolescents with and without a history of special needs related to language difficulties. Participants were 55 17-year-olds with specific language impairment (SLI) and 72 typically developing (TD) peers. Participants completed interviews regarding computer anxiety as well as computer importance and computer enjoyment. Measures of psycholinguistic skills, perceived ease of use and general anxiety were also obtained. Results showed that adolescents with SLI experience more computer anxiety than TD peers and that females are more anxious than males. Level of general anxiety, perceived ease of use and language ability had a direct association and were predictive of level of computer anxiety in adolescents with SLI. In contrast, only perceived ease of use was significantly predictive in TD adolescents. Gender was not a significant predictor in the context of other influential variables. The findings reveal a complex relationship between linguistic, attitudinal and emotional factors and computer anxiety. Adolescents with SLI who are at a greater risk may require multifaceted support for a number of influencing factors including general anxiety. © 2009 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.