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Understanding internet addiction: a comprehensive review

Shilpa Suresh Bisen (Department of Humanities and Social Sciences, Visvesvaraya National Institute of Technology, Nagpur, India)
Yogesh M. Deshpande (Department of Humanities and Social Sciences, Visvesvaraya National Institute of Technology, Nagpur, India)

Mental Health Review Journal

ISSN: 1361-9322

Article publication date: 11 July 2018

Issue publication date: 15 August 2018




The purpose of this paper is to delineate the overall theoretical framework on the topic of internet addiction through the comprehensive narrative review to make readers aware of the conceptual growth and development in the respective field. The paper evolves theoretically from the historical foundation, phenomenology, clinical feature, etiological model to the treatment outcome of internet addiction. Multiple studies have been done in the field of mental health but dearth of work given head to toe theoretical overview for understanding of this trendsetter research area in mental health.


Extensive review of literature has been carried out to make a systematic layout for conceptual paper.


The internet has been a source of gratification for several behavioral addictions as well as psychiatric disorders. Mainly because of the lack of established diagnostic criteria and a dearth of large sample surveys, the prevalence of problematic internet use (PIU) in general population has not been established. Still, from all the consolidated data, PIU seems to have a male preponderance and manifests itself in late adulthood. Symptoms of PIU can easily be masked with signs of dependence, tolerance and withdrawal which is quite similar to the phenomenology of substance addiction. Psychiatric co-morbidities are more of a norm than the exception in case of PIU. Even though the clinical status of PIU is doubtful, still there is a significant demand for its treatment all over the world. Overall, the excessive use of internet has been strongly debated in literature from PIU to a positive addiction. Only time will tell how it affects our civilization as a phenomenon of evolutionary significance.


The paper is providing a general conceptual framework for internet addiction/PIU to enable readers to know about the topic in depth from the evolution of the concept to the recent developments in the area.



Conflict of interest statement: the authors declare that the research was conducted in the absence of any commercial or financial relationships that could be construed as a potential conflict of interest.


Bisen, S.S. and Deshpande, Y.M. (2018), "Understanding internet addiction: a comprehensive review", Mental Health Review Journal, Vol. 23 No. 3, pp. 165-184.



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