Canadian researchers have just published the results of the largest study on smartphone addiction. They noted differences by gender, age and even country. Nearly one in three people have a problematic relationship with their smartphone.
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Researchers from the university of Toronto have just conducted the largest global survey on smartphone addiction. Published in the journal International Journal of Mental Health and Addiction, it concerns a total of 50,423 participants aged 18 to 90 in 195 countries. Nearly a third of respondents (29 to 31%) received a score that classified them as having a high risk of smartphone addiction.
The researchers used the short version of the questionnaire Smartphone Addiction Scale (SAS-SV) of Kwon et al. (2013) comprising 10 statements, such as “ I feel impatient and worried when I don’t hold my smartphone » or « those around me tell me that I use my smartphone too much “. The researchers found that women scored higher on problematic use than men, an effect even more pronounced for the 41 countries with at least 100 participants. According to them, women use their smartphones more for social reasons, such as communicating with loved ones or social networks.
Levels of addiction that differ depending on the region
The results also showed that smartphone addiction is higher among younger people, and decreases with age. In addition, there are disparities between countries, with a much higher level of problematic use in South-East Asia, and lower in Europe. The researchers hypothesize that this is due to the fact that Internet adoption has been mainly through smartphones in Southeast Asia, while Europe was already using it on computers well before the arrival of smartphones. The researchers also believe that some differences could also be explained by social norms, such as in more collectivist societies that prioritize connections with the group.
The researchers nevertheless highlight the limitations of this data. Smartphones are so integrated into our lives and even our work that future studies will need to be much more nuanced. For example, someone who works eight hours a day on social media won’t necessarily feel a negative effect on their life. Researchers plan to conduct a long-term study to see if addiction levels increase or stabilize.
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