The theoretical underpinnings of Internet addiction and its association with psychopathology in adolescence (2017)

Taylor, Shawn, Sirirada Pattara-angkoon, Schwanagorn Sirirat, and Damith Woods.

International Journal of Adolescent Medicine and Health (2017).

Published Online: 2017-07-06 | DOI:


This paper reviews the psychological and theoretical underpinnings that might help to explain the reported relationship between Internet addiction (IA) and psychopathology in both children and adolescents. Drawing on cognitive-behavioural models and social-skills theory, IA shows a strong relationship with depression, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and time spent using the Internet use. Mixed findings are reported for social anxiety. Loneliness and hostility were also found to be associated with IA. Gender and age moderated these relationships with greater psychopathology generally reported among males and younger Internet users. This paper adds to the growing body of literature showing an association between IA and a range of mental health problems in both children and adolescents. A dependence on the Internet can potentially result in significant harm both socially and psychologically. While research has identified a potential pathway commencing with mental health problems and concluding with IA, few studies have examined the alternative direction and this may provide the impetus for future research endeavours.

Keywords: attention deficit; depression; hyperactivity; Internet addiction; psychopathology; social anxiety

Published Online: 2017-07-06

Author contributions: Dr Shawn Taylor and Associate Professor Damith Woods conducted a review of the literature and prepared early drafts. Ms Sirirada Pattara-angkoon and Mr Schwanagorn Sirirat provided input and feedback on later drafts.

Citation Information: International Journal of Adolescent Medicine and Health, ISSN (Online) 2191-0278, ISSN (Print) 0334-0139, DOI: Export Citation