Internet Use Disorder: Diagnosis

Although excessive Internet use and its impact on adults and adolescents has been widely publicized, Internet Addiction or Internet Use Disorder have not been recognized as diagnostic categories in the 4th revision of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV) and in the International Classification of Diseases (ICD-10).

In the past, the lack of uniform diagnostic criteria lead to parallel definitions of the terms “Internet Addiction” and “Internet Use Disorder”, which resulted in a conglomerate of names for the disorder and uncertanty about the diagnostic criteria.

Proposed Internet Addiction Diagnostic Criteria

In 2010, Tao et al. proposed the following diagnostic criteria for Internet addiction:


All the following symptoms must be present:

At least one (or more) of the following must be present:

The excessive internet use is not better accounted for by psychotic disorders or bipolar I disorder.

Clinically significant impairment:
The excessive internet use leads to functional impairments (eg. reduced social, academic, or working ability), including loss of a significant relationship, job, educational or career opportunities.

The internet addiction must have lasted for an excess of 3 months, with at least 6 hours of internet usage (non-business/non-academic) per day.

(cf. Tao 2010)

Dr. Sandra Elze & Dr. Michael Elze