A coherent framework for addressing risk arising from new technologies is needed. In proposing a framework of broad application and future focus, where empirical evidence is scarce, reliance on strong theory becomes all the more important. Some technologies are more prone to excessive engagement than others (i.e. more addictive). Some users are also more susceptible to excessive engagement than others. Impulsivity theory emphasises the importance of reinforcement magnitude in determining the risk associated with a new technology, and that an individual's sensitivity to reinforcement (reward drive) and capacity to inhibit previously reinforced behaviour (rash impulsiveness) determines their susceptibility to problematic engagement. Online gaming provides a good example of how such theory can be applied to facilitate intervention efforts and develop policy.
When does repeated behaviour constitute behavioural addiction? There has been considerable debate about non-substance-related addictions and how to determine when impaired control over a behaviour is addiction. There are public health benefits to identifying new behavioural addictions if intervention can improve outcomes. However, criteria for establishing new behavioural addictions must guard against diagnostic inflation and the pathologizing of normal problems of living. Criteria should include clinical relevance (Criterion 1), alignment with addiction phenomenology (Criterion 2) and theory (Criterion 3), and taxonomic plausibility (Criterion 4). Against such criteria, evidence does not yet support classification of pornography-use and buying-shopping disorders as addictions.