A Review and Meta-Analysis Examining Conceptual and Operational Definitions of Problematic Internet Use

Robert S. Tokunaga, Stephen A Rains

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

16 Scopus citations


This study examined different conceptual and operational definitions of problematic Internet use (PIU). 3 perspectives of PIU are described along with a meta-analytic review (K = 112) conducted to explore the implications stemming from how PIU is measured. The results offer evidence to support the construct validity of measures developed from the impulse control disorder and relationship resource deficits traditions but raise questions about substance dependence measures of PIU. Additionally, there were small but noteworthy differences in the associations between PIU and key antecedents and outcomes that could be attributed to PIU measurement tradition. Suggestions for developing a more robust body of scholarship on PIU are offered.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalHuman Communication Research
StateAccepted/In press - 2016



  • Depression
  • Impulse Control Disorder
  • Loneliness
  • Meta-Analysis
  • Problematic Internet Use
  • Relational Resource Deficits
  • Substance Dependence
  • Time Online

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Communication
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Linguistics and Language
  • Anthropology

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