Gaming disorder was officially recognized as a disorder of addictive behaviour in the International Classification of Diseases 11th revision in 2019. Since then, other types of potentially problematic online behaviour have been discussed as possible candidates for inclusion in the psychiatric nosography of addictive disorders. Understanding these problematic online behaviours requires further study of the specific psychological mechanisms involved in their formation and maintenance. An important but underdeveloped line of research has examined the ways in which technology design features might influence users’ capacity to exert control over how they engage with and use websites and applications, thereby amplifying uncontrolled, and perhaps addictive, use. In this Review, we critically examine the available research on the relationships between technology design features and the loss of control and harms experienced by those who engage in online video gaming, online gambling, cybersexual activities, online shopping, social networking and on-demand TV streaming. We then propose a theory-driven general taxonomy of the design features of online applications that might promote uncontrolled and problematic online behaviours.
- Human behaviour
- Science, technology and society