Scientific article
Open access

Perceptions Underlying Addictive Technology Use Patterns: Insights for Cognitive-Behavioural Therapy

Publication date2022-01-04
First online date2022-01-04

Cognitive-Behavioural Therapy (CBT) is considered the ‘gold standard' in the treatment of addictive disorders related to excessive technology use. However, the cognitive components of problematic internet use are not yet well-known. The aim of the present study was to explore the cognitive components, that according to problematic users, can lead to potential internet addiction. A total of 854 European adults completed an online survey using a mixed-methods design. Internet problems and attachment styles were assessed, prevalence rates estimated, correlations, chi-squared automatic interaction detection, and content analysis were performed. Self-reported addictions to social networking, internet, and gaming had a prevalence between 1.2% (gaming) to 2.7% (social networking). Self-perception of the addiction problem and preoccupied attachment style were discriminative factors for internet addiction. In an analysis of qualitative responses from self-identified compulsive internet users, a sense of not belonging and feeling of disconnection during life events were perceived as causes for internet addiction. The development depended on a cycle of mixed feelings associated with negative thoughts, compensated by a positive online identity. The severity of this behaviour pattern produced significant impairment in various areas of the participants' functioning, suggesting a possible addiction problem. It is suggested that health professionals administering CBT should target unhealthy preoccupations and monitor mixed feelings and thoughts related to internet use to support coping with cognitive distortions.

  • Adults
  • Behaviours
  • Cognition
  • Cognitive-behavioural therapy
  • Compulsive internet use
  • Internet addiction
  • Internet use-related addiction
  • Mixed-methods
  • Preoccupied attachment style
  • European Commission - Technological use disorders: European cross-cultural longitudinal and experimental studies for Internet and smartphone problem uses [627999]
Citation (ISO format)
LOPEZ-FERNANDEZ, Olatz et al. Perceptions Underlying Addictive Technology Use Patterns: Insights for Cognitive-Behavioural Therapy. In: International journal of environmental research and public health, 2022, vol. 19, n° 1, p. 544. doi: 10.3390/ijerph19010544
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Article (Published version)
ISSN of the journal1660-4601

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