A Bibliometric Analysis of the Scientific Literature on Internet, Video Games, and Cell Phone Addiction*[dagger]

By Carbonell, Xavier; Guardiola, Elena et al. | Journal of the Medical Library Association, April 2009 | Go to article overview

A Bibliometric Analysis of the Scientific Literature on Internet, Video Games, and Cell Phone Addiction*[dagger]


Carbonell, Xavier, Guardiola, Elena, Beranuy, Marta, Bellés, Ana, Journal of the Medical Library Association


Objectives: The aim of this study was to locate the scientific literature dealing with addiction to the Internet, video games, and cell phones and to characterize the pattern of publications in these areas.

Methods: One hundred seventy-nine valid articles were retrieved from PubMed and PsycINFO between 1996 and 2005 related to pathological Internet, cell phone, or video game use.

Results: The years with the highest numbers of articles published were 2004 (n=42) and 2005 (n=40). The most productive countries, in terms of number of articles published, were the United States (n=52), China (n=23), the United Kingdom (n=17), Taiwan (n=13), and South Korea (n=9). The most commonly used language was English (65.4%), followed by Chinese (12.8%) and Spanish (4.5%). Articles were published in 96 different journals, of which 22 published 2 or more articles. The journal that published the most articles was Cyberpsychology & Behavior (n=41). Addiction to the Internet was the most intensely studied (85.3%), followed by addiction to video games (13.6%) and cell phones (2.1%).

Conclusions: The number of publications in this area is growing, but it is difficult to conduct precise searches due to a lack of clear terminology. To facilitate retrieval, bibliographic databases should include descriptor terms referring specifically to Internet, video games, and cell phone addiction as well as to more general addictions involving communications and information technologies and other behavioral addictions.

Behavioral addictions are an emerging phenomenon whose existence, except for pathological gambling, is questioned by the scientific community [I]. Even gambling has been categorized in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, fourth edition, text revision (DSM-IV-TR) as a condition affecting control of impulses and not as a problem of dependence [2]. Regardless of how they are classified, the study of behavioral addictions is interesting in and of itself and as a way of gaining an increased understanding of the psychological aspects of substance addiction.

One behavioral addiction that has received considerable media attention is the pathological use of certain information and communications technologies (ICT), such as the Internet, cell phones, and video games. The media tend to highlight the negative consequences and addictive properties of these technologies, often on the basis of single cases or opinions that are difficult to validate [3]. The Internet and the media also report on specialized clinics that treat these addictions in countries as widely dispersed as the United States [4, 5], China [6, 7], Germany [8], and Spain [9]. Consequently, the public may come to believe in excessive use of these technologies or maladaptations, both common phenomena in the adaptation to new technologies.

An analysis of scientific publication related to ICT addiction was performed to determine what type of research is being conducted, who is doing the research, and where this research is taking place, as well as to document what the trends in publication are over time. To find the maximum number of publications, two large bibliographic databases were searched: PubMed, which provides broad coverage of the biomedical sciences, and PsycINFO, which indexes the literature of psychology. The aim of the present study was to analyze the pattern of scientific publication on addiction to ICT over a ten-year period (1996-2005).

MATERIALS AND METHODS

Articles indexed in PubMed and PsycINFO between 1996 and 2005 related to the pathological use of Internet, cell phones, and video games were retrieved. Î To obtain the maximum number of relevant articles, a variety of search strategies were tested in each database.

The PubMed database was searched on January 21, 2006. In the absence of specific Medical Subject Headings (MeSH) terms for the addictions under study, a strategy was adopted that included the MeSH terms most closely related to these topics:

("Internet"[MeSH] OR "Cellular Phone"[MeSH] OR "Video Games"[MeSH] OR "Computer Systems" [MeSH] OR "Computers"[MeSH]) AND ("Impulse Control Disorders"[MeSH] OR "Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder" [MeSH] OR "Anxiety Disorders" [MeSH] OR "Mood Disorders"[MeSH] OR "Impulsive Behavior" [MeSH] OR "Behavior, Addictive"[MeSH])

Searches were limited to Entrez Date from 1996/01/ 01 to 2006/01/20 and publication date from 1996/01/ 01 to 2005/12/31. …

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