“Given the increasing use of the Internet in this age of social distancing and remote working, it is important to assess the harm caused by online addictive behavior,” writes Brand.
whereas Certain problematic Internet use behaviors, such as gaming and gambling, are recognized as disorders, Others, including shopping, social network use and pornography, are unspecified.
Here, Brand briefly reviews the research that shows the mechanisms that can lead to Internet addiction and whether they are different or similar to other addictions.
According to the authors, the most problematic Internet applications provide pleasure and are able to reduce negative moods – responses that parallel the effects of addiction on the brain’s reward system.
Other applications can lead to compulsive use patterns, indicating that self-control regulation may also drive problematic Internet use.
According to Brand, online addictive behavior may be the result of difficulties in making good choices and in the brain regulating rewarding behavior.
Evaluating the root cause of Internet addiction may improve the understanding of what makes some people more vulnerable to addiction than others and how problematic Internet use can be prevented.