Introduction: 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.
Methods: 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.
Results: 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.
Discussion: In general, it is of importance to distinguish between generalized and specific Internet addiction.
Keywords: China; Germany; Sweden; Taiwan; generalized and specific Internet addiction.
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