International Journal of Mental Health and Addiction

, Volume 10, Issue 5, pp 748–769

A Conceptual Review of Research on the Pathological Use of Computers, Video Games, and the Internet


    • Department of Applied Social SciencesThe Hong Kong Polytechnic University
  • Douglas A. Gentile
    • Department of PsychologyIowa State University
  • Francesco Bricolo
    • Neuroscience UnitDipartimento delle Dipendenze
  • Giovanni Serpelloni
    • Neuroscience UnitDipartimento delle Dipendenze
  • Farah Gulamoydeen
    • National Institute of EducationNangyang Technological University

DOI: 10.1007/s11469-011-9369-7

Cite this article as:
Sim, T., Gentile, D.A., Bricolo, F. et al. Int J Ment Health Addiction (2012) 10: 748. doi:10.1007/s11469-011-9369-7


Preliminary research studies suggest that some people who use computer, video games, and the Internet heavily develop dysfunctional symptoms, often referred to in the popular press as an “addiction.” Although several studies have measured various facets of this issue, there has been no common framework within which to view these studies. This paper aims to provide a conceptual framework of “impulse control disorders” and describe what is known currently based on a review of the international literature, and highlight what remains to be studied. We suggest the term “Pathological Technology Use” (PTU) rather than “internet addiction”, since there is robust construct validity (via convergent validity and comorbidity) for pathological computer, video game and Internet use, regardless of how individual researchers defined or measured it. Questions concerning diagnostic criteria are raised, and a common set of diagnostic criteria is proposed.


AddictionPathologicalComputerVideo gamesInternetTechnologyImpulse control disorders

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2012