‘Internet Addiction’: A Critical Review
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- Widyanto, L. & Griffiths, M. Int J Ment Health Addiction (2006) 4: 31. doi:10.1007/s11469-006-9009-9
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It has been alleged by some academics that excessive Internet use can be pathological and addictive. This paper reviews what is known from the empirical literature on ‘Internet addiction’ and its derivatives (e.g., Internet Addiction Disorder, Pathological Internet Use, etc.) and assesses to what extent it exists. Empirical research into ‘Internet addiction’ can roughly be divided into five areas: (1) survey studies that compare excessive Internet users with non-excessive users, (2) survey studies that have examined vulnerable groups of excessive Internet use, most notably students, (3) studies that examine the psychometric properties of excessive Internet use, (4) case studies of excessive Internet users and treatment case studies, and (5) correlational studies examining the relationship of excessive Internet use with other behaviours (e.g., psychiatric problems, depression, self-esteem, etc.). Each of these areas is reviewed. It is concluded that if ‘Internet addiction’ does indeed exist, it affects a relatively small percentage of the online population. However, exactly what it is on the Internet that they are addicted to still remains unclear.