The Potential of Digital Phenotyping and Mobile Sensing for Psycho-Diagnostics of Internet Use Disorders

Curr Addict Rep. 2021;8(3):422-430. doi: 10.1007/s40429-021-00376-6. Epub 2021 Jul 8.


Purpose of review: The present paper provides an accessible overview on the potential of digital phenotyping and mobile sensing not only shedding light on the nature of Internet Use Disorders (IUD), but also to provide new ideas on how to improve psycho-diagnostics of mental processes linked to IUD.

Recent findings: In detail, the psycho-diagnostic areas of prevention, treatment, and aftercare in the realm of IUDs are focused upon in this work. Before each of these areas is presented in more specificity, the terms digital phenotyping and mobile sensing are introduced against the background of an interdisciplinary research endeavor called Psychoinformatics. Obstacles to overcome problems in this emerging research endeavor-sensing psychological traits/states from digital footprints-are discussed together with risks and chances, which arise from the administration of online-tracking technologies in the field of IUDs.

Summary: Given the limited validity and reliability of traditional assessment via questionnaires or diagnostic interviews with respect to recall bias and tendencies to answer towards social desirability, digital phenotyping and mobile sensing offer a novel approach overcoming recall bias and other limitations of usual assessment approaches. This will not only set new standards in precisely mapping behavior, but it will also offer scientists and practitioners opportunities to detect risky Internet use patterns in a timely manner and to establish tailored feedback as a means of intervention.

Keywords: Big Data; Digital phenotyping; Internet Use Disorders; Internet addiction; Mobile sensing; Problematic Internet use; Psychoinformatics; Smartphone addiction; Social media addiction.

Publication types

  • Review