Harvard Mental Health Letter

Questions & Answers: Is internet addiction a distinct mental disorder?

Questions & Answers

Q. Is "Internet addiction" a distinct mental disorder?

A. For a decade, mental health clinicians and researchers have been arguing the merits of defining a new mental disorder, what some would call "Internet addiction." This tag refers to a recognizable phenomenon, but addiction researchers dispute the value of the label.

Skeptical experts advocate caution about establishing any new diagnostic category, especially when the body of literature is small and limited to anecdotal reports and surveys, as it is in this case. Also, criteria for identifying a problem have not been rigorously validated.

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