Pathological Internet use-It is a multidimensional and not a unidimensional construct

Mirko Pawlikowski, Ingo W. Nader, Christoph Burger, Stefan Stieger, Matthias Brand

Research output: Journal article (peer-reviewed)Journal article

13 Citations (Scopus)


It is still a topic of debate whether pathological Internet use (PIU) is a distinct entity or whether it should be differentiated between pathological use of specific Internet activities like playing Internet games and spending time on Internet sex sites. The aim of the current study was to contribute to a better understanding of common and differential aspects of PIU in relation to different specific Internet activities. Three groups of individuals were examined which differed with respect to their use of specific Internet activities: one group of 69 subjects used exclusively Internet games (IG) (but not Internet pornography (IP)), 134 subjects used IP (but not IG), and 116 subjects used both IG and IP (i.e., unspecific Internet use). The results indicate that shyness and life satisfaction are significant predictors for a tendency towards pathological use of IG, but not pathological use of IP. Time spent online was a significant predictor for problematic use of both IG and IP. Additionally, no correlation was found between symptoms of pathological use of IG and IP. We conclude that games may be used to compensate social deficits (e.g., shyness) and life satisfaction in real life, whereas IP is primarily used for gratification in terms of achieving stimulation and sexual arousal. These results support the demand for differentiating the various facets of Internet use in future studies instead of considering PIU as a unitary phenomenon.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)166-175
Number of pages10
JournalAddiction Research and Theory
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • Internet gaming
  • Internet pornography
  • Pathological Internet use

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)


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