Personality, Internet Addiction, and Other Technological Addictions: An Update of the Research Literature

Personality, Internet Addiction, and Other Technological Addictions: An Update of the Research Literature

Zaheer Hussain (University of Derby, UK) and Halley M. Pontes (Nottingham Trent University, UK)
Copyright: © 2019 |Pages: 27
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-8449-0.ch003
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There has been a significant shift from the view that addictions are disorders involving compulsive drug usage to a view that non-substance related behaviors may now be considered addictions. There is evidence to suggest that people are showing signs of addiction to non-substance-related behaviors. Research into technological addictions, such as internet addiction, smartphone addiction and social networking addiction has exponentially increased over the last decade. Understanding how technological addictions relate to personality and key individual differences is important. This chapter provides renewed empirical and conceptual insights into technological addictions and how they may be related to different personality types and key individual differences. The complex nature of personality and technological addictions is discussed together with areas for future research.
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Recent figures suggest that 3.9 billion people worldwide use the Internet (International Telecommunication Union [ITU], 2019). In developed countries, Internet use increased steadily from 51.3% in 2005 to 80.9% in 2018, in developing countries, Internet use increased from 7.7% in 2005 to 45.3% in 2018 (ITU, 2019). Although Internet use is usually beneficial and advantageous for most people (Howard, Wilding & Guest, 2016; Heo et al., 2015; Roy & Ferguson, 2016; Wiederhold, 2017), increased availability and high penetration rates across the globe can facilitate the emergence of excessive and addictive behaviors related to Internet use. Furthermore, many people appear to display impulsive, narcissistic and aggressive personalities online which can be nurtured by various Internet technologies (Aboujaoude, 2017).

Internet addiction has been defined as “excessive or poorly controlled preoccupations, urges or behaviours regarding computer use and Internet access that lead to impairment or distress” (Weinstein & Lejoyeux, 2010, p. 277). Studies have systematically shown that excessive use of the Internet can lead to Internet addiction and health issues (Anand et al., 2018; Durkee et al., 2012; Lai et al., 2015; Pontes & Griffiths, 2016a; Pontes & Griffiths, 2017; Lortie & Guitton, 2013). Internet addiction comprises a heterogeneous spectrum of Internet-related activities with a potential to cause problems for the individual, such as gaming, shopping, gambling, or social networking. In fact, the phenomenon of Internet addiction has been recognized since the mid-1990s as a new type of addiction and a mental health problem that exhibits signs and symptoms like those of other established addictions. Young (1996) and Griffiths (1996) were among the first researchers to investigate Internet addiction from a scientific perspective by publishing case study accounts of individuals who suffered from this condition based on an adapted criterion for pathological gambling as defined in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual for Mental Disorders (DSM-IV; American Psychiatric Association, 1994). In one of the earliest studies published in the field, Young (1998) investigated a sample of 396 dependent Internet users who endorsed a minimum of five out of eight criteria adapted from the diagnostic criteria for pathological gambling in the DSM-IV, and 100 non-dependent Internet users. The results of this study indicated that on average, the dependent users spent eight times more hours online than the controls and used chat rooms and Multi User Dungeons (MUDs).

Key Terms in this Chapter

Multi-User Dungeons: A multi-player real time virtual world, usually text-based.

Personality: A set of characteristics or qualities that make up an individual’s character.

Wall Function of Facebook: An area on a profile or page where friends and ‘fans’ can post their thoughts and opinions for everyone to see.

Massively Multi-Player Online Role-Playing Games: Internet connected video games in which very large numbers of people interact with one another within a virtual world.

Technological Addictions: An addiction to a non-substance in which a person repeatedly engages in leading to detrimental effects on health. Common technological addictions include Internet addiction, smartphone addiction, and gambling addiction.

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