In this commentary paper, it is discussed if Compulsive Sexual Behavior Disorder (CSBD) is best categorized as an Impulse Control Disorder, an Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder or in light of the overlap of characteristics with both Gaming and Gambling Disorder as an addictive behavior. The overlapping features are: loss of control over the respective excessive behavior, giving increasing priority to the excessive behavior under investigation and upholding such a behavior despite negative consequences. Besides empirical evidence regarding underlying mechanisms, phenomenology also plays an important role to correctly classify CSBD. The phenomenological aspects of CSBD clearly speak in favor of classifying CSBD under the umbrella of addictive behaviors.
Internet Addiction (IA) has consistently been related to comorbid psychiatric disorders and lowered self-esteem. However, most studies relied on self-report questionnaires using non-representative samples. This study aims to analyze the relative impact of self-esteem and comorbid psychopathology with lifetime IA in a population-based sample of excessive Internet users using clinical diagnoses assessed in a personal interview.
The sample of this study is based on a general population survey. Using the Compulsive Internet Use Scale, all participants with elevated Internet use scores were selected and invited to a follow-up interview. Current DSM-5 criteria for Internet gaming disorder were rephrased to apply to all Internet activities. Out of 196 participants, 82 fulfilled the criteria for IA. Self-esteem was measured with the Rosenberg’s Self-Esteem Scale.
Self-esteem is significantly associated with IA. For every unit increase in self-esteem, the chance of having IA decreased by 11%. By comparison, comorbidities such as substance-use disorder (excluding tobacco), mood disorder, and eating disorder were significantly more likely among Internet-addicted than in the non-addicted group. This could not be reported for anxiety disorders. A logistic regression showed that by adding self-esteem and psychopathology into the same model, self-esteem maintains its strong influence on IA.
Discussion and conclusions
Self-esteem was associated with IA, even after adjustment for substance-use disorders, mood disorder, and eating disorder. Self-esteem and psychopathology should be considered in prevention, intervention measures, as well as in the conception of etiological models.
Symptoms of pathological gambling (SPG) and depression often co-occur. The nature of this relationship remains unclear. Rumination, which is well known to be associated with depression, might act as a common underlying factor explaining the frequent co-occurrence of both conditions. The aim of this study is to analyze associations between the rumination subfactors brooding and reflection and SPG.
Participants aged 14–64 years were recruited within an epidemiological study on pathological gambling in Germany. Cross-sectional data of 506 (80.4% male) individuals with a history of gambling problems were analyzed. The assessment included a standardized clinical interview. To examine the effects of rumination across different levels of problem gambling severity, sequential quantile regression was used to analyze the association between the rumination subfactors and SPG.
Brooding (p = .005) was positively associated with the severity of problem gambling after adjusting for reflection, depressive symptoms, and sociodemographic variables. Along the distribution of problem gambling severity, findings hold for all but the lowest severity level. Reflection (p = .347) was not associated with the severity of problem gambling at the median. Along the distribution of problem gambling severity, there was an inverse association at only one quantile.
Discussion and conclusions
Brooding might be important in the development and maintenance of problem gambling. With its relations to depression and problem gambling, it might be crucial when it comes to explaining the high comorbidity rates between SPG and depression. The role of reflection in SPG remains inconclusive.
Deficits in emotion regulation (ER) are associated with mental disorders. To date, there are hardly any studies focusing on the role of ER strategies in the context of gambling behavior. The aim of this study was to investigate the association between specific ER strategies and pathological as well as problematic gambling in a proactively recruited sample.
A large and unselected sample (n = 4,928) has been screened proactively and systematically in vocational schools. We assessed the Affective Style Questionnaire to measure ER strategies and the Stinchfield questionnaire for assessing problematic and pathological gambling. Associations were investigated with linear and multinomial logistic regression analyses.
The analyses showed a significant negative correlation between the subscales “Adjusting” and “Tolerating” and the Stinchfield sum score. Lower scores on these subscales were associated with a higher number of endorsed Stinchfield items. A lower score on the ER strategies “Adjusting” [conditional odds ratio (COR) = 0.95, confidence interval (CI) = 0.91–0.99] and “Tolerating” [COR = 0.95, CI = 0.92–99] led to a higher chance of being classified as a pathological gambler. In problematic gambling, on a subthreshold level, only “Tolerating” turned out to be significant [COR = 0.96, CI = 0.93–0.99].
Discussion and conclusions
For the first time, deficits in specific ER strategies were identified as independent risk factors for problematic and pathological gambling in a large and proactively recruited sample. ER skills, especially acceptance-focused strategies, should be considered in prevention and psychotherapy.
The diagnosis “Internet Gaming Disorder” (IGD) has been included in the fifth edition of Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. However, the nine criteria have not been sufficiently reviewed for their diagnostic value. This study focuses on a broader approach of Internet addiction (IA) including other Internet activities. It is not yet clear what the construct of IA is in terms of dimensionality and homogeneity and how the individual criteria contribute to explained variance.
Three separate exploratory factor analyses and multinomial logistic regression analyses were carried out based on information collected from a general population-based sample (n = 196), a sample of people recruited at job centers (n = 138), and a student sample (n = 188).
Both of the adult samples show a distinct single-factor solution. The analysis of the student sample suggests a two-factor solution. Only one item (criterion 8: escape from a negative mood) can be assigned to the second factor. Altogether, high endorsement rates of the eighth criterion in all three samples indicate low discriminatory power.
Discussion and conclusions
Overall, the analysis shows that the construct of IA is represented one dimensionally by the diagnostic criteria of the IGD. However, the student sample indicates evidence of age-specific performance of the criteria. The criterion “Escape from a negative mood” might be insufficient in discriminating between problematic and non-problematic Internet use. The findings deserve further examination, in particular with respect to the performance of the criteria in different age groups as well as in non-preselected samples.
Montag, Wegmann, Sariyska, Demetrovics, and Brand (2019) propose an important framework surrounding the taxonomy of problematic internet usage, with particular applications to disentangling the role of mobile and other handheld devices versus stationary platforms. This is a critical contribution, as organizational frameworks have begun to move past “whether” there is disordered internet use, and towards better understanding the complex and multifaceted ways in which internet usage can be related to psychological maladjustment. In the present commentary, we encourage authors to extend this framework by incorporating developmental complexities. Montag and colleagues' (2019) contribution is discussed with reference to children and families, including: (1) the conceptualization of problematic internet usage and associated behaviors across the early years, (2) the types of internet use and devices that are most salient for young users, (3) the embedding of children's internet consumption within the context of a broader pattern of family media usage, and (4) the construct of behavioral addictions in pediatric populations. Recommendations for science and practice are briefly discussed.
Data on Internet addiction (IA) and its association with personality disorder are rare. Previous studies are largely restricted to clinical samples and insufficient measurement of IA.
Cross-sectional analysis data are based on a German sub-sample (n = 168; 86 males; 71 meeting criteria for IA) with increased levels of excessive Internet use derived from a general population sample (n = 15,023). IA was assessed with a comprehensive standardized interview using the structure of the Composite International Diagnostic Interview and the criteria of Internet Gaming Disorder as suggested in DSM-5. Impulsivity, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, and self-esteem were assessed with the widely used questionnaires.
Participants with IA showed higher frequencies of personality disorders (29.6%) compared to those without IA (9.3%; p < .001). In males with IA, Cluster C personality disorders were more prevalent than among non-addicted males. Compared to participants who had IA only, lower rates of remission of IA were found among participants with IA and additional cluster B personality disorder. Personality disorders were significantly associated with IA in multivariate analysis. Discussion and conclusion: Comorbidity of IA and personality disorders must be considered in prevention and treatment.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
Internet gaming disorder is gaining attention around the world. Some efforts have been directed toward preventing gaming problems from developing or persisting, but few approaches have been empirically evaluated. No known effective prevention intervention exists. Reviewing the broader field of prevention research should help research and best practices move forward in abating problems that arise from excessive gaming.