Smartphone Usage and Mental Health: New Findings

by Colleen Fleiss on Dec 2 2020 11:10 PM

Smartphone Usage and Mental Health: New Findings
Excessive smartphone usage is not linked to poor mental health, revealed study published in Technology, Mind, and Behavior was led by Heather Shaw and Kristoffer Geyer from Lancaster University with Dr David Ellis and Dr Brittany Davidson from the University of Bath and Dr Fenja Ziegler and Alice Smith from the University of Lincoln.
Scientists measured the time spent on smartphones by 199 iPhone users and 46 Android users for one week. Participants completed clinical scales that measure anxiety and depression symptoms. They also completed a scale which measured how problematic they perceived their smartphone usage to be.

The study findings revealed that the amount of time spent on the smartphone was not related to poor mental health. Instead, mental health was associated with concerns and worries felt by participants about their own smartphone usage.

Lead author Heather Shaw of Lancaster University's Department of Psychology said: "A person's daily smartphone pickups or screen time did not predict anxiety, depression, or stress symptoms. Additionally, those who exceeded clinical 'cut off points' for both general anxiety and major depressive disorder did not use their phone more than those who scored below this threshold."

Previous studies have focused on the potentially detrimental impact of 'screen time', but the new study shows that people's attitudes or worries are likely to drive these findings.

Dr David Ellis, from the University of Bath's School of Management, said: "Mobile technologies have become even more essential for work and day-to-day life during the COVID-19 pandemic. Our results add to a growing body of research that suggests reducing general screen time will not make people happier. Instead of pushing the benefits of digital detox, our research suggests people would benefit from measures to address the worries and fears that have grown up around time spent using phones."