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Addressing taxonomic challenges for Internet Use Disorders in light of changing technologies and diagnostic classifications

Commentary on: “How to overcome taxonomical problems in the study of Internet use disorders and what to do with “smartphone addiction”?” (Montag et al., 2020)

Journal of Behavioral Addictions
Authors:
Hans-Jürgen Rumpf
,
Dillon Browne
,
Dominique Brandt
, and
Florian Rehbein

Abstract

Drawing a distinction between mobile and non-mobile Internet Use Disorders is an important step to clarify blurred current concepts in the field of behavioral addictions. Similarly, future technological advances related to virtual or augmented reality, artificial intelligence or the Internet of things might lead to further modifications or new taxonomies. Moreover, diagnostic specifiers like offline/online might change with technological advances and trends of use. An important taxonomical approach might be to look for common structural characteristics of games and applications that will be amenable to new technical developments. Diagnostic and taxonomical approaches based on empirical evidence are important goals in the study of behavioral addictions.

Open access
Journal of Behavioral Addictions
Authors:
Hannah Schmidt
,
Dominique Brandt
,
Anja Bischof
,
Silja Heidbrink
,
Gallus Bischof
,
Stefan Borgwardt
, and
Hans-Jürgen Rumpf

Abstract

Background

Despite the constant publication of new screening instruments for Internet use disorders (IUD), little is known about their content validity. This study aimed to identify potential mismatches between the items' intention and young adults' interpretation of these items when answering three screening instruments that are commonly used in research and clinical settings: The Compulsive Internet Use Scale (CIUS), the 10 Item-Internet Gaming Disorder Test (IGDT-10), and the Bergen Social Media Addiction Scale (BSMAS).

Methods

In total, 30 vocational students (50% female, age = 21.3; SD = 2.1) took part in individual think-aloud interviews. All participants were asked to report their thoughts while completing the CIUS. In addition, participants who reported online games (OG) as their main Internet activity (n = 11) answered the IGDT-10. Participants who reported social networks (SN) as their main Internet activity (n = 18) answered the BSMAS. One participant used OG and SN equally and completed both screening instruments. All interviews were audio-recorded, transcribed, and content-analysed.

Results

Overall, four potential sources for errors were identified: (1) High scorings were often not congruent with the underlying diagnostic criteria. In particular, such discrepancies were found in items aimed to assess dysfunctional emotional regulation strategies and cognitive involvement. (2) Some participants were uncertain which time frame or Internet activity should be considered in their answers. (3) Long and complex items led to the building of mean values or the choice of the middle answer category. (4) Some wordings were perceived to be outdated and difficult to understand.

Discussion

These findings might help to provide recommendations on how to improve screening instruments for IUD. Most important, items should more clearly distinguish between Internet use as a “normal” leisure activity and Internet use that leads to functional impairments in daily life.

Open access
Journal of Behavioral Addictions
Authors:
Hannah Schmidt
,
Dominique Brandt
,
Christian Meyer
,
Anja Bischof
,
Gallus Bischof
,
Anika Trachte
,
Bettina Besser
,
Svenja Orlowski
,
Samantha Schlossarek
,
Stefan Borgwardt
, and
Hans-Jürgen Rumpf

Abstract

Background

Adolescents and young adults (AYA) have an increased risk for Internet use disorders (IUD) compared to older individuals that may lead to functional impairments in daily life. To date, evidence-based brief interventions are lacking. This study aimed to test the efficacy of a low-threshold counseling approach based on Motivational Interviewing (MI) in a vocational school setting.

Methods

Of 8.230 vocational students (age M=20.56, SD=4.68; 51.85% female) being proactively screened for IUD, 937 with positive screenings took part in telephone-based diagnostic interviews. IUD were assessed in line with the criteria of the Internet Gaming Disorder in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 5th edition (DSM-5). Readiness to change, self-efficacy, and impairments in daily life were additionally assessed with standardized screening instruments. Participants fulfilling at least two IUD criteria were randomized to the intervention group (n=240, up to three MI-based counseling sessions via telephone) or the control group (n=257, information brochure on responsible Internet use). Follow-up interviews were conducted after five and ten months. The primary outcome was the reduction of IUD criteria. Secondary outcomes were improvements of readiness/ self-efficacy to change and the reduction of daily impairments. Data were analyzed with Intention-to-Treat (ITT) and complier average causal effect (CACE) analyses.

Results

Overall, 153 (63.75%) individuals assigned to the intervention group participated at least in one counseling session (=compliers). Both groups reduced the number of IUD criteria over time. In ITT analyses, however, we did not find intervention effects for primary and secondary outcomes. Bayes statistics were inconclusive. Based on low participation rates in the intervention group, explorative CACE analyses were conducted to compare compliers in the intervention group to potential compliers in the control group. Again, we did not find intervention effects apart from improvements in self-efficacy after five months.

Discussion

Telephone-based counseling seems not appropriate to address AYA at risk for IUD. Low participation rates in the intervention group caused underpowered analyses. Besides, dealing with the own Internet use during intensive assessments and receiving an information brochure led to behavioral changes also in the control group. Since the efficacy of brief interventions under the condition of higher participation rates cannot be fully ruled out, further research is required by taking the implications of this study into account.

Open access
Journal of Behavioral Addictions
Authors:
Daniela Röttinger
,
Gallus Bischof
,
Dominique Brandt
,
Anja Bischof
,
Svenja Orlowski
,
Bettina Besser
,
Elisa Wegmann
,
Matthias Brand
, and
Hans-Jürgen Rumpf

Abstract

Background and aims

An increasing number of people experience negative consequences from the excessive use of different Internet applications or sites (e.g., Instagram, League of Legends, YouTube). These consequences have been referred to as specific Internet Use Disorders (IUDs). The present study aims to examine the Fear of Missing Out (FoMO) on rewarding experiences with respect to specific Internet activities. FoMO has been found to mediate the link between psychopathology and symptoms of Internet Communication Disorder (ICD). However, the role of FoMO in other IUDs is controversial.

Methods

The current study (N = 7,990) consecutively screened in vocational schools) analyzed the associations between online-specific state-FoMO, general trait-FoMO, mental health, and IUD symptoms in a structural equation model. After testing the model for the entire sample of Internet users, it was analyzed separately for the two main user groups: Social Networking Site (SNS) users and gamers.

Results

The proposed model explained 42.0% of the variance in IUD symptoms in the total sample, 46.8% for SNS users, and 32.8% for gamers. Results suggest that impaired mental health and high trait-FoMO predict IUD symptoms. For both SNS users and gamers, trait-FoMO mediated the link between low mental health and IUD, whereas state-FoMO mediated the link between trait-FoMO and IUD in both user groups.

Discussion

Our results partly support the theoretical model of specific IUDs, highlighting trait-FoMO as a predisposing fear of disconnection related to general mental health. Online-specific FoMO appears to contribute to problematic Internet use mainly because of its link to the general fear of disconnection. Moreover, the described mechanism seems to be comparable for both females and males.

Conclusions

FoMO is a multidimensional construct underlying IUD symptoms related to the use of socially gratifying, but distinct Internet applications. FoMO and psychopathology should be targeted together in prevention and treatment plans of IUDs.

Open access