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      Problematic Internet use and physical health

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          Background and aims

          A considerable body of literature has emerged over the past two decades assessing the relationship between problematic or addictive use of the Internet and various indices of psychological well-being. Conversely, comparatively little research has assessed the relationship between problematic or addictive use of the Internet and one's physical health.


          The current study assesses this relationship using a sample of college students ( N = 133) who responded online to two questionnaires: the Problematic Internet Use Questionnaire (PIUQ; Demetrovics, Szeredi&Rózsa, 2008) and the SF-36v2 Health Survey (Ware et al., 2008).


          The findings indicate that problematic Internet use is associated with poorer physical health. These results are consistent with other data that assessed the relationship between these two variables. Furthermore, this relationship supersedes the influence of the number of hours spent online per day.


          The findings are discussed in terms of the limitations of the study design and conclusions that can be drawn from this preliminary empirical effort.

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          Most cited references 19

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          Introduction to behavioral addictions.

          Several behaviors, besides psychoactive substance ingestion, produce short-term reward that may engender persistent behavior, despite knowledge of adverse consequences, i.e., diminished control over the behavior. These disorders have historically been conceptualized in several ways. One view posits these disorders as lying along an impulsive-compulsive spectrum, with some classified as impulse control disorders. An alternate, but not mutually exclusive, conceptualization considers the disorders as non-substance or "behavioral" addictions. Inform the discussion on the relationship between psychoactive substance and behavioral addictions. We review data illustrating similarities and differences between impulse control disorders or behavioral addictions and substance addictions. This topic is particularly relevant to the optimal classification of these disorders in the forthcoming fifth edition of the American Psychiatric Association Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-V). Growing evidence suggests that behavioral addictions resemble substance addictions in many domains, including natural history, phenomenology, tolerance, comorbidity, overlapping genetic contribution, neurobiological mechanisms, and response to treatment, supporting the DSM-V Task Force proposed new category of Addiction and Related Disorders encompassing both substance use disorders and non-substance addictions. Current data suggest that this combined category may be appropriate for pathological gambling and a few other better studied behavioral addictions, e.g., Internet addiction. There is currently insufficient data to justify any classification of other proposed behavioral addictions. Proper categorization of behavioral addictions or impulse control disorders has substantial implications for the development of improved prevention and treatment strategies.
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            Online communication, compulsive Internet use, and psychosocial well-being among adolescents: a longitudinal study.

            The present study investigated the relationships between adolescents' online communication and compulsive Internet use, depression, and loneliness. The study had a 2-wave longitudinal design with an interval of 6 months. The sample consisted of 663 students, 318 male and 345 female, ages 12 to 15 years. Questionnaires were administered in a classroom setting. The results showed that instant messenger use and chatting in chat rooms were positively related to compulsive Internet use 6 months later. Moreover, in agreement with the well-known HomeNet study (R. Kraut et al., 1998), instant messenger use was positively associated with depression 6 months later. Finally, loneliness was negatively related to instant messenger use 6 months later. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2008 APA, all rights reserved).
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              Prevalence of pathological Internet use among university students and correlations with self-esteem, the General Health Questionnaire (GHQ), and disinhibition.

              Over the last few years, there has been increased interest in the addictive potential of the Internet. The current study was an attempt to replicate common findings in the literature and provide more evidence for the existence of Internet addiction among students--a population considered to be especially vulnerable. A total of 371 British students responded to the questionnaire, which included the Pathological Internet Use (PIU) scale, the General Health Questionnaire (GHQ-12), a self-esteem scale, and two measures of disinhibition. Results showed that 18.3% of the sample were considered to be pathological Internet users, whose excessive use of the Internet was causing academic, social, and interpersonal problems. Other results showed that pathological Internet users had lower self-esteem and were more socially disinhibited. However, there was no significant difference in GHQ scores. These results are discussed in relation to the methodological shortcomings of research in the area as a whole.

                Author and article information

                Journal of Behavioral Addictions
                Akadémiai Kiadó, co-published with Springer Science+Business Media B.V., Formerly Kluwer Academic Publishers B.V.
                1 June 2013
                6 December 2012
                : 2
                : 2
                : 108-112
                [ 1 ] Lehigh Valley Campus, Pennsylvania State University, Center Valley, PA, USA
                [ 2 ] Lehigh Valley Campus, Pennsylvania State University, 2809 Saucon Valley Road, Center Valley, PA, 18034, USA
                Author notes
                © 2013 The Author(s)

                Open Access statement. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium for non-commercial purposes, provided the original author and source are credited, a link to the CC License is provided, and changes – if any – are indicated.

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