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Cyberpsychol Behav. 2009 Feb;12(1):21-7. doi: 10.1089/cpb.2008.0162.

Screening for Internet dependence: do the proposed diagnostic criteria differentiate normal from dependent Internet use?

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  • 1Problem Gambling Research and Treatment Centre, Melbourne Graduate School of Education, University of Melbourne, Victoria, Australia.


There is continued discussion of including Internet dependence as a diagnosis in future editions of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. The primary aim of the study was to evaluate the utility of the proposed diagnostic criteria for Internet dependence as measured by Young's Diagnostic Questionnaire (YDQ). Although the YDQ does not provide any measure of severity, there is emerging recognition that some Internet users may display less severe or at risk Internet dependence. The degree to which the cutoff of 5 out of 8 criteria is appropriate to differentiate nondependent from dependent Internet use was evaluated by comparing the Internet usage and psychological dysfunction of 424 university students endorsing 3 and 4 diagnostic criteria (at-risk Internet dependence) to those endorsing less than 3 criteria (nondependent) and those endorsing 5 or more criteria (Internet dependence). The findings suggest that the proposed diagnostic criteria do not adequately discriminate individuals scoring 3 or 4 from those currently classified as Internet dependent. The implications of the findings for the assessment, diagnosis, and treatment of Internet dependence are discussed.

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