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Since the 1990s, increasing rates of Internet use and Internet-related problems have led to the Internet Addiction Debate, which has yet to establish a firm consensus on the existence of Internet addiction. Proponents who believe Internet addiction exists are fighting for its official recognition as a mental disorder (Young and Case, 2004). However, sceptics posit that individuals are not addicted to the Internet itself; rather, the Internet serves as a platform to access various sources of addiction such as social media or online gambling (Griffiths, 2000). Previous research has focused on evaluating the validity of Internet addiction diagnostic questionnaires by investigating the measured characteristics of addiction without any comparisons between the questionnaires (Moon et al., 2018). This method is unable to sufficiently address the question of the existence of Internet addiction. In the first of its kind, this study aims to address the Internet Addiction Debate by comparing three commonly utilized diagnostic questionnaires. Statistical analyses found that these questionnaires measure a common construct identified as addiction, but not Internet addiction specifically. Despite determining good predictive abilities of each questionnaire, further analysis found inappropriate designs and inconsistent thresholds for identifying Internet ‘addicts’, casting doubt on these questionnaires as valid diagnostic tools. It was concluded that Internet addiction does not exist and should thus not be listed as a mental health disorder. A new model of various cyber addictions to guide the development of relevant diagnostic tools and prevention/treatment interventions is proposed.
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