J Neural Transm. 2015 Jan 10.
The internet age bears new challenges that include health risks. It is agreed that excessive internet use may reach pathological levels. However, the concept of internet addiction lacks specificity and, therefore, warrants studies on its diagnostic and etiologic classification. This study was conducted to characterize the novel DSM-5 criteria for internet gaming disorder and the adapted criteria for the “social network disorder”.
Based on the established association of handedness and substance use disorders, we also explored whether internet use related to laterality. For this study, 3,287 volunteers participated in the online survey and gave particulars concerning their internet use in general, internet gaming and use of social networks, laterality markers (hand, foot, eye, ear, rotational preference in gymnastics, and head turning asymmetry) and health status. Of the participants, 1.1 % fulfilled the criteria for internet gaming disorder, and 1.8 % fulfilled the criteria for social network disorder. The applied criteria were highly correlated with the time spent on the respective internet activities (p < 4 × 10-56). The analyses of comorbidity and working hours support the thresholds of 5/9 criteria and ≥30 h/week spent on the internet for the classification as pathological (p < 5 × 10-2). Moreover, we found that left-handedness related to more affirmed criteria and longer times spent on social networks (p ≤ 4 × 10-2). The provided criteria proved to be user-friendly, comprehensible and well accepted. The results contribute to a better understanding of pathological internet gaming and social network use and provide evidence that biological markers of substance use disorders are involved in internet addiction.