Excessive use of smartphones and other Internet-connected devices may be linked to depression, according to a study published in Computers in Human Behavior.
Smartphone addiction may be among the most common addictions. A 2015 study of 256 participants found 13% showed signs of smartphone addiction. In that study, the average user spent 3.6 hours per day using a smartphone. A 2011 study found more than half of adults and almost two-thirds of teenagers have used their smartphones while socializing.
The Connection Between Smartphone Addiction and Depression
Researchers gave more than 300 university students questionnaires about their mental health, use of electronic devices, and reasons for using smartphones. Some sample questions include:
- “Do you think that your academic or work performance has been negatively affected by your cell phone use?”
- “Do you think that life without the Internet is boring, empty, and sad?”
Students who reported more symptoms of mental health issues such as depression were more likely to exhibit problematic smartphone use. Researchers did not test for a causal connection between the two issues, so it is unclear whether one causes the other.emotions, suggesting people who become addicted to smartphones may already be experiencing emotional concerns.
Cell Phones and Stress Reduction
In a second trial of the same group, researchers explored how smartphones might act as a “security blanket” during stressful situations. Some students were allowed to hold their phones during a researcher-induced stressful situation, but they were not allowed to make calls or otherwise use the phones. Another group of students was not permitted to hold their phones.
Both groups had similar reactions to the stressful experience for its duration. The group of students who retained their cell phones, though, had a reduced initial reaction to the stress. The researchers say these findings suggests cell phones might offer a small “security blanket” effect, especially at the onset of stress.
- Osborne, L. (2015, March 5). One in eight people are addicted to their smartphone—and the more we use them, the worse it gets, study claims. Retrieved from http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-2977879/One-eight-people-addicted-smartphone-use-worse-gets-study-claims.html#ixzz3TQxnsi8b
- Panova, T., & Lleras, A. (2016). Avoidance or boredom: Negative mental health outcomes associated with use of Information and Communication Technologies depend on users’ motivations. Computers in Human Behavior, 58, 249-258. doi:10.1016/j.chb.2015.12.062
- Reina, M. (2016, March 3). Smartphone addiction may make you depressed, study warns. Retrieved from http://www.healthnewsline.net/smartphone-addiction-may-make-depressed-study-warns/2534850/
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