Pathological Technology Addictions: What Is Scientifically Known and What Remains to Be Learned

Douglas A. Gentile, Sarah M. Coyne and Francesco Bricolo

in The Oxford Handbook of Media Psychology

Published in print December 2012 | ISBN: 9780195398809
Published online January 2013 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Library of Psychology

Pathological Technology Addictions: What Is Scientifically Known and What Remains to Be Learned


Several case studies, research studies, and anecdotal reports suggest that there is a subset of people for whom computer, Internet, and video games have several of the symptoms of a dysfunctional compulsive disorder, often referred to in the popular press as an addiction. Although several scientific studies have measured various facets of this issue, there has been no common framework within which to view these studies. This chapter examines the international literature, and finds that there is robust construct validity (via convergent validity and comorbidity) for pathological technology use, regardless of how individual researchers have defined or measured it. Most measurement approaches demonstrate high reliability. Most studies show broad patterns of construct validity similar to other “addictions.” Pathological use also shows some evidence of predictive validity. Questions concerning definitional issues are raised, and a common set of diagnostic criteria are proposed. Several questions remain to be studied, including the prevalence of pathological technology use, its etiology, its course, and the best way to diagnose and treat it. Nonetheless, it is clear that some people are already suffering from problems associated with pathological use, and the psychiatric and psychological communities would benefit from a common framework within which to approach and study it.

Keywords: addiction; computer; impulse control disorders; Internet; video games

Article.  13485 words. 

Subjects: Psychology ; Social Psychology

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