eCite Digital Repository

Challenging the concept of smartphone addiction: An empirical pilot study of smartphone usage patterns and psychological well-being


Lowe-Calverley, E and Pontes, H, Challenging the concept of smartphone addiction: An empirical pilot study of smartphone usage patterns and psychological well-being, Cyberpsychology, behavior and social networking, 23, (8) pp. 550-556. ISSN 2152-2715 (2020) [Refereed Article]

Copyright Statement

Copyright 2019 Mary Ann Liebert, Inc.

DOI: doi:10.1089/cyber.2019.0719


Smartphone use is ubiquitous, however, scholarly debate regarding the addictive nature of smartphones abounds. In this context, it is integral to distinguish between the content that users experience and the medium that facilitates access to the former, as users may experience addictive-like responses to the specific activities they engage in through the context experienced rather than the device that facilitates access to these activities. The present study aimed to explore conceptualizations of smartphone addiction by (a) investigating user preferences for specific smartphone functionalities, (b) examining behavioral changes associated with limited access to preferred functionalities, and (c) exploring links between aspects of smartphone use and self-reported psychological well-being. A total of 471 participants completed an online survey, providing data on sociodemographics, actual and hypothetical smartphone usage, and psychological well-being (depression, anxiety, and stress symptoms). The results showed that communication functionalities were most frequently cited as being preferred among smartphone users. Notably, participants reported that they would check their smartphones significantly fewer times if their top-three functionalities were inaccessible. This suggests that smartphone users are likely to become addicted to the functionalities they access on their smartphones (content) and not the smartphones themselves (medium), rendering unviable the notion of smartphone addiction as a construct. Further analyses suggested negligible to small correlations between aspects of smartphone use and psychological well-being variables. The findings imply that rather than focusing on frequency of smartphone use, it is recommended that future research examines the type and quality of specific smartphone usages and their effects on user well-being.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:communication, cyberpsychology, psychological well-being, smartphone addiction, smartphone use, technology
Research Division:Psychology
Research Group:Clinical and health psychology
Research Field:Health psychology
Objective Division:Health
Objective Group:Public health (excl. specific population health)
Objective Field:Mental health
UTAS Author:Lowe-Calverley, E (Dr Emily Lowe-Calverley)
UTAS Author:Pontes, H (Dr Halley de Oliveira Miguel Pontes)
ID Code:139291
Year Published:2020
Web of Science® Times Cited:18
Deposited By:Psychology
Deposited On:2020-06-06
Last Modified:2021-09-30

Repository Staff Only: item control page