Problematic smartphone use and well-being
This study aimed to investigate whether problematic smartphone use is related to subjective and psychological well-being.
While smartphones benefit us in many aspects of daily life, they have also been known cause difficulties in other aspects of life such as productivity, relationships, and generally health. This raises the question of whether smartphone usage is impacting people's well-being, and, if so, which aspects of well-being are affected. While past research has shown that smartphone use may lead to a lower level of wellbeing, we looked at the relationship between problematic smartphone and two main frameworks of well-being, subjective and psychological well-being.
Subjective well-being measures positive emotions, negative emotions, and satisfaction with life. It can be thought of as a measure of how good a person thinks their life is generally. Psychological well-being measures a person’s quality of life by looking at self-acceptance, positive relations with others, autonomy, environmental mastery, purpose in life, and personal growth. These measures look at a person’s potential as a human and their ability to deal with difficult life experiences. A sample of 539 Australian young adults answered questions about their subjective well-being, psychology well-being, and level of smartphone use. The results showed that problematic smartphone use was associated with aspects of reduced subjective and psychological well-being, including things like personal growth and purpose in life. It was important to note, however, that using a smartphone for direct communications (e.g., calls and texts, not passive social media scrolling) with friends and loved ones was associated with increased wellbeing. The take home message from this research is that if you feel like your phone is not making you happy, it might be time to take a step back and re-assess how you interact with technology more generally.