Compulsive Internet use in working age population: exploring prevalence figures, vulnerability factors and potential links with Compulsive Working

Quinones, Cristina (2015). Compulsive Internet use in working age population: exploring prevalence figures, vulnerability factors and potential links with Compulsive Working. In: British Psychology Society Seminar: Exploring the always on culture. How can psychological theory inform ‘healthy’ working practices?, 27 Mar 2015, Milton Keynes, Open University.



Dr Quinones presented three of her studies of compulsive internet use in adult population. In the first part of her presentation, she discussed conceptualization and operationalization issues and presented prevalence figures with large samples in UK, US and UAE (N>1200). Following from the debates about cut-off points introduced by Professor Griffiths, Dr Quinones also added that there are disagreements in the scientific community as to whether we could even use the term “addiction” resulting in the emergence of different terms with different measurement tools (e.g. pathological internet use, compulsive internet use), and that this has interfered further in the reliable estimation of prevalence figures. Nonetheless, the author also reported that upon close inspection of the mainstream tools, the items were very similar and tapped into the conceptual model put forward by Griffiths in the mid 90’s. The author illustrated some of the current debates in relation to “healthy” but high engagement; versus truly problematic behaviour. Building on the conceptual distinction found in the literature between high engagement without negative consequences (i.e. high use, use to experience a buzz) and core negative consequences of the behaviour (withdrawal, loss of control, conflict), the author found up to 12% lower prevalence figures when considering only the latter . This and the fact that the country with highest compulsive internet use also reported the lower amount of hours, suggested that that prevalence figures in the literature are likely to be inflated by including high and healthy engagement. In the second paper, the author presented her findings testing how low social support and low self-concept clarity ( an antecedent of social anxiety) could be explaining adults’ vulnerability to develop a maladaptive relationship with the internet. Finally, Dr Quinones presented her preliminary findings of a longitudinal study of compulsive internet use and discussed how current work practices could be reinforcing and exacerbating maladaptive relationships with the internet for individuals with underlying vulnerability. She also mentioned that she is currently studying these and related issues with time series studies, and that she is interested in the intervention opportunities deriving from this work.

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