Is it meaningful to distinguish between generalized and specific Internet addiction? Evidence from a cross-cultural study from Germany, Sweden, Taiwan and China.

Asia Pac Psychiatry. 2014 Feb 26. doi: 10.1111/appy.12122.

Montag C1, Bey K, Sha P, Li M, Chen YF, Liu WY, Zhu YK, Li CB, Markett S, Keiper J, Reuter M.



It has been hypothesized that two distinctive forms of Internet addiction exist. Here, generalized Internet addiction refers to the problematic use of the Internet covering a broad range of Internet-related activities. In contrast, specific forms of Internet addiction target the problematic use of distinct online activities such as excessive online video gaming or activities in social networks.


The present study investigates the relationship between generalized and specific Internet addiction in a cross-cultural study encompassing data from China, Taiwan, Sweden and Germany in n = 636 participants. In this study, we assessed – besides generalized Internet addiction – addictive behavior in the domains of online video gaming, online shopping, online social networks and online pornography.


The results confirm the existence of distinct forms of specific Internet addiction. One exception, however, was established in five of the six samples under investigation: online social network addiction correlates in large amounts with generalized Internet addiction.


In general, it is of importance to distinguish between generalized and specific Internet addiction.


China, Germany, Sweden, Taiwan, generalized and specific Internet addiction