The Psychology of Internet Addiction


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The Psychology of Internet Addiction

  1. 1. The Psychology ofInternet Addiction
  2. 2. + Providing One-Stop Summaries and Directions For Your Research The PsychFutures Research Maps are a series of digests on the most popular Psychology related topics, whereby linking to podcasts, videos, journal publications, websites and blogs; ideal if you’re looking for inspiration to kick-start your dissertations and research projects. The topics are varied, including Love, Sport and Music. To view the full list and download the other Research Maps click here or go to:
  3. 3. + Introduction  For most of us, Internet usage has no harmful effects, while for others poorly controlled and excessive preoccupations with the Internet lead to significant distress. The research on this particular topic is thriving, with fascinating findings being published worldwide.
  4. 4. + Cross-Cultural Prevalence Statistics (See end of Research Map for full reference list)  1.2 million South Korean high school students are believed to be at risk for Internet addiction (Kim, 2007).  A survey of British students revealed 18.3% were considered pathological users of the Internet (Niemz, Griffiths & Banyard, 2005).  3% of the German population (an estimated 1.5 million) are believed to be at risk of Internet addiction (Woefling, Buhler, Lemenager, Mairsen, & Mann, 2009).  Of 17,251 survey respondents in the US, 6% fulfilled the Internet addiction criteria (Greenfield, 1999).
  5. 5. + Diagnosing Problematic Internet Usage  Internet Addiction is not currently listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV), and so there are no widely accepted diagnostic criteria. However, it is proposed to be included in the future DSM-V (May 2013). In the meantime, experts have suggested the components essential to the diagnosis: 1. Excessive Internet use, associated with loss of time; 2. Withdrawal effects: tension, depression, anger; 3. Intense need for more hours of use and more computer equipment; 4. Adverse effects of Internet use: fatigue and social isolation for instance.  See this article published in the American Journal of Psychiatry for more details on diagnosis criteria.
  6. 6. + How to Measure Internet Addiction  The Internet Addiction Scale is the most commonly used questionnaire for diagnosis and has been validated in Korea, Finland, the States and the UK, with a cut-off point score of 70 or above (Weinstein & Lejoyeux, 2010).  Other popular questionnaires include:  The Problematic Internet Use Questionnaire (PIUQ; validated in Hungary; Demetrovics, Szeredi, & Razsa, 2008).  The Compulsive Internet Use Scale (CIUS; validated in Holland; Meerkerk, Van Den Eijnden, Vermulst, & Garretsen, 2009).
  7. 7. + Internet Addiction and Sleep  A study of high school Korean students with Internet addiction identified a 37.7% prevalence of excessive day time sleepiness (Choi et al., 2009).  A high co-morbidity between Internet addiction and insomnia has also been reported (Cheung & Wong, 2011).
  8. 8. + Internet Addiction, IQ and Social Effects  In a study comparing Internet-addicted students (n=59) with non- addicted students (n=43), it was discovered that the former group scored significantly lower on the comprehension items of an IQ test.  These comprehension items reflected reality testing and ethical judgement, thus indicating possible links between Internet addiction and weak social intelligence (Park et al., 2011).
  9. 9. + Internet Addiction and its Association with other Disorders  Interestingly, numerous studies have shown that Internet Addiction does not necessarily occur alone. Rather, other well-recognised disorders co-occur (co-morbidity), or predict the occurrence of problematic Internet usage.
  10. 10. + Internet Addiction and its Association with other Disorders  A prospective study on a sample of adolescents found Depression, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and social phobia to predict Internet addiction at the follow-up data collection phase two years later (Ko, Yen, Chen, Yeh, & Yen, 2009).  Davis (2001) found that the existence of a depressive disorder is one of the most significant predictors of excessive Internet use, while Fergusson, Boden, & Horwood (2009) found the reverse relationship: depressive symptoms are a consequence of excessive Internet use.  Other studies suggest Internet addiction is associated with impulse control disorders and various chemical dependencies (e.g., Caplan, 2003; Shapira, Goldsmith, Keck, Kholsa, & McElroy, 2000).
  11. 11. + Treating Internet Addiction  Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) has been suggested as a suitable treatment. In particular, cognitive behavioural therapy- Internet addiction (CBT-IA): a three phase approach has been proposed:  Phase 1) Behaviour modification is applied to gradually decrease the time the individual spends on the Internet.  Phase 2) Cognitive therapy is applied to focus on the denial often experienced by the addicts with regards to their excessive online use.  Phase 3) Harm reduction therapy (HRT) is applied to identify/ treat other issues present in the development of problematic Internet use.  For anyone interested in this area, check out ‘CBT-IA: The First Treatment Model for Internet Addiction’ published in the Journal of Cognitive Psychotherapy: An International Quarterly (2011), by Dr Kimberly Young.
  12. 12. + Useful Journals  Cyberpsychology & Behavior  Cyberpsychology, Behavior & Social Networking  Communication Research  Psychology of Addictive Behaviors  Psychology of Popular Media Culture  Addiction Research & Theory
  13. 13. + Useful Books  Caught in the Net by Dr Kimberly Young  Internet Addiction: A Handbook and Guide to Evaluation and Treatment by Dr Kimberly Young and Cristiano Nabuco de Abreu  Internet Addiction: Psychology of Emotions, Motivations and Actions by Hannah Price  The Multiplicities of Internet Addiction: The Misrecognition of Leisure and Learning by Nicola Johnson
  14. 14. + Experts Dr David Greenfield – Founder of The Center for Internet and Technology Addiction ( Dr John Grohol – CEO and founder of Psych Central who also sits on the editorial board of the journal Cyberpsychology, Behavior and Social Networking. Dr. Kimberly Young – has developed the first empirically-based treatment plan for Internet addiction – CBT-IA. She is an internationally known expert on Internet addiction and is a licensed psychologist.
  15. 15. + Videos  Internet Addiction, the New Disorder?  Click here to watch  The Neuroscience of Internet Addiction  Click here to watch  Psychologist Discusses Facebook Addiction  Click here to watch
  16. 16. + Web Resources / Articles  American Psychological Association – Is Internet addiction real?  NHS Choices – Confusing claims over internet addiction  PsychCentral – Internet Addiction Guide  PsychCentral – Internet Addiction Quiz  AllPsych Journal – Internet Addiction Disorder  – Pathological Internet Use – Some Examples  – The Center for Internet Addiction…  – “Internet Addiction”: Addictive Behavior, Transference or More?
  17. 17. + News Reports  The Guardian – Can you really be addicted to the internet?  The Guardian – Addiction to internet ‘is an illness’  BBC News – ‘Internet addiction’ linked to depression, says study  The Telegraph – Internet addiction: commentary  The Independent – Addicted! Scientists show how internet dependency alters the human brain
  18. 18. + Journal ReferencesBlock, J. J. (2008). Issues for DSM-V: Internet Addiction. American Journal of Psychiatry, 165, 306-307.Caplan, S. E. (2003). Preference for online social interaction. A theory of problematic Internet use and psychosocial well- being. Communication Research, 30, 625-648.Cheung, L. M., & Wong, W. S. (2011). The effects of insomnia and internet addiction on depression in Hong Kong Chinese adolescents: an exploratory cross-sectional analysis. Journal of Sleep Research, 20, 311-317.Choi, K., Son, H., Park, M., Han, J., Kim, K., Lee, B., & Gwak, H. (2009). Internet overuse and excessive daytime sleepiness in adolescents. Psychiatry Clinical Neuroscience, 63, 455-462.Davis, R. A. (2001). A cognitive-behavioral model of pathological Internet use. Computers in Human Behavior, 17, 187-195.Demetrovics, Z., Szeredi, B., & Razsa, S. (2008). The three-factor model of Internet addiction: The development of the Problematic Internet Use Questionnaire. Behavior Research Methods, 40, 563-574.Fergusson, D. M., Boden, J. M., & Horwood, L. J. (2009). Tests of causal links between alcohol abuse or dependence and major depression. The Archives of General Psychiatry, 66, 260-266.Greenfield, D. N. (1999). Psychological characteristics of compulsive Internet use: A preliminary analysis. Cyberpsychology Behavior, 2, 403-412.Kim, B. N. (2007). From Internet to “family-net”: Internet addict vs. digital leader. In International Symposium on the Counseling and Treatment of Youth Internet Addiction. Seoul, Korea, National Youth Commission, p.196.
  19. 19. + Journal ReferencesKo, C. H., Yen, J. Y., Chen, C. S., Yeh, Y. C., & Yen, C. F. (2009). Predictive values of psychiatric symptoms for Internet addiction in adolescents: A 2-year prospective study. Archives of Paediatric & Adolescent Medicine, 163, 937-943.Meerkerk, G. J., Van Den Eijnden, R. J., Vermulst, A. A., & Garretsen, H. F. (2009). The Compulsive Internet Use Scale (CIUS): Some psychometric properties. Cyberpsychology Behaviour, 12, 1-6.Niemz, K., Griffiths, M., & Banyard, P. (2005). Prevalence of pathological Internet use among university students and correlations with self-esteem, the General Health Questionnaire (GHQ), and disinhibition. Cyberpsychology Behaviour, 86, 562-570.Park, M., Park, E., Choi, J., Chai, S., Lee, J., Lee, C., & Kim, D. (2011). Preliminary study of Internet addiction and cognitive function in adolescents based on IQ tests. Psychiatry Research, 190, 275-281.Shapira, N. A., Goldsmith, T. D., Keck, P. E., Kholsa, U. M., & McElroy, S. L. (2000). Psychiatric features of individuals with problematic Internet use. Journal of Affective Disorders, 57, 267-272.Weinstein A., & Lejoyeux, M. (2010). Internet addiction or excessive Internet use. The American Journal of Drug and Alcohol Abuse, 36, 277-283.Woefling, K., Buhler, M., Lemenager, T., Mairsen, C., & Mann, K. (2009). Gambling and Internet addiction: Review and research agenda. Nervenarzt, 80, 1030-1039.Young, K. S. (2011). CBT-IA: The first treatment model for internet addiction. Journal of Cognitive Psychotherapy, 25, 304-312.