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Problematic interactive media use in teens: comorbidities, assessment, and treatment

Authors Pluhar E, Kavanaugh JR, Levinson JA, Rich M

Received 16 March 2019

Accepted for publication 24 May 2019

Published 27 June 2019 Volume 2019:12 Pages 447—455

DOI https://doi.org/10.2147/PRBM.S208968

Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single-blind

Peer reviewers approved by Professor Luca Iani

Peer reviewer comments 2

Editor who approved publication: Professor Igor Elman


Emily Pluhar,1,2 Jill R Kavanaugh,1 Jordan A Levinson,1 Michael Rich1,2

1Division of Adolescent and Young Adult Medicine, Boston Children’s Hospital, Boston, MA 02115, USA; 2Department of Psychiatry, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA 02115, USA

Abstract: Problematic Interactive Media Use (PIMU), aka internet or video game addiction, is increasingly presenting to pediatricians for care. The majority of youth now use mobile media almost constantly to communicate, learn, and entertain themselves, but for some, uncontrolled video gaming, social media use, pornography viewing, and information-bingeing on short videos or websites contribute to functional impairment. PIMU can result in academic failure, social withdrawal, behavioral problems, family conflict, and physical and mental health problems. There is no formal diagnosis to describe the spectrum of PIMU behaviors and therefore no standardized therapeutic interventions. Anticipatory guidance will help identify youth at risk and empower parents to recognize and prevent problems. In addition, epidemiology and etiology indicate that Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), affective disorders, and Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) may predispose to and, in some cases, result from PIMU, offering opportunities for effective treatment by addressing underlying pathology that is manifesting itself in the interactive media environment. Efforts to establish evidence-based diagnoses, develop and evaluate therapeutic strategies, and to train clinicians in recognition and care of PIMU are reviewed.

Keywords: addictive behavior, adolescent health, internet, dialectical behavior therapy, mental health

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