Background and aims The "Internet addiction" paradigm has been criticized for several shortcomings, including inattention to specific online behaviors, not distinguishing the Internet from other media, insufficient focus on comorbidities, and definitions that do not take into account the constant access now possible. The paradigm's biggest casualty, however, may be that it has diverted attention away from subtle personality changes that seem to occur online, including in users who cannot be considered "addicted" under any definition. Methods A narrative assessment of the literature was conducted, focusing on the Internet's effects on personality traits as revealed in studies of Internet users. Results Impulsivity, narcissism, and aggression are some of the personality traits that seem to be nurtured by the Internet, with possible negative offline consequences. Discussion Ignoring the Internet's subtle effects on personality as we embrace an addiction model that implies severe pathology makes the majority of Internet users feel deceptively immune to the psychological effects of new technologies. It also limits our understanding of the big cultural shifts that are happening as a result. Conclusion The Internet's potentially negative effect on personality, and by extension on society at large, is a fundamental part of online psychology, one well worthy of further investigation.
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