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Clinical psychology of Internet addiction: a review of its conceptualization, prevalence, neuronal processes, and implications for treatment

Authors Pontes H, Kuss D, Griffiths M

Received 6 March 2015

Accepted for publication 14 April 2015

Published 28 May 2015 Volume 2015:4 Pages 11—23

DOI https://doi.org/10.2147/NAN.S60982

Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single-blind

Peer reviewer comments 2

Editor who approved publication: Dr Annabel Chen


Halley M Pontes, Daria J Kuss, Mark D Griffiths

International Gaming Research Unit, Psychology Division, Nottingham Trent University, Nottingham, UK

Abstract: Research into Internet addiction (IA) has grown rapidly over the last decade. The topic has generated a great deal of debate, particularly in relation to how IA can be defined conceptually as well as the many methodological limitations. The present review aims to further elaborate and clarify issues that are relevant to IA research in a number of areas including: definition and characterization, incidence and prevalence rates, associated neuronal processes, and implications for treatment, prevention, and patient-specific considerations. It is concluded that there is no consensual definition for IA. Prevalence rates among nationally representative samples across several countries vary greatly (from 1% to 18.7%), most likely reflecting the lack of methodological consistency and conceptual rigor of the studies. The overlaps between IA and other more traditional substance-based addictions and the possible neural substrates implicated in IA are also highlighted. In terms of treatment and prevention, both psychological and pharmacological treatments are examined in light of existing evidence alongside particular aspects inherent to the patient perspective. Based on the evidence analyzed, it is concluded that IA may pose a serious health hazard to a minority of people.

Keywords: Internet addiction, review, behavioral addictions, prevalence, neuronal processes, treatment

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