Home Medizin Studie zeigt, dass Smartphone-Sucht die Einsamkeit fördert und das Wohlbefinden beeinträchtigt

Studie zeigt, dass Smartphone-Sucht die Einsamkeit fördert und das Wohlbefinden beeinträchtigt

von NFI Redaktion

In a recent article published in Scientific Reports, researchers investigated how loneliness mediates the relationship between excessive smartphone use or addiction and the self-reported well-being of Chinese university students.

Their findings, which suggest that smartphone addiction has a direct and indirect negative impact on well-being by increasing loneliness, have implications for smartphone-related policies aimed at students‘ well-being by focusing on reducing addiction.













​​​​​​​Study: The mediating role of loneliness in the relationship between smartphone addiction and subjective well-being. Image source: ImYanis/Shutterstock.com

Background

An excessive reliance on smartphones, including access to social media, can impact happiness and other indicators of well-being. These concerns are increasing as smartphone usage becomes pervasive, with its negative effects becoming more evident, especially in younger population groups.

Loneliness, defined by researchers as the gap between actual and expected social interaction, can be amplified by smartphone addiction or excessive use.

While individuals may use smartphones more in response to loneliness, it appears that smartphone dependence over time can weaken existing offline relationships.

For university students, higher well-being is associated with lower levels of depression and anxiety, better academic performance and achievements, and a reduced risk of suicide and self-harm.

The role of loneliness in mediating the influence of smartphone addiction on well-being has been hypothesized but not quantitatively studied.

About the Study

In this study, researchers hypothesized that smartphone addiction would have a negative relationship with the well-being of university students and that loneliness would be a mediating factor.

They surveyed students from 16 universities in eight municipalities and provinces across China, using a stratified cluster sampling design to ensure a representative sample.

Smartphone addiction was measured using a scale consisting of 16 items related to mood swings, social well-being, irritability, and withdrawal symptoms. A higher score indicated a student’s greater dependency on smartphone use.

The loneliness measurement scale comprised 20 items; a higher score indicated stronger feelings of loneliness.

Well-being was measured using nine questions on life satisfaction and the general emotional index, with a higher score indicating better well-being.

The collected data were analyzed using independent samples t-tests, correlation analyses, analysis of variance, bootstrapping, and mediated effect assessments.

Results

A total of 1,527 students participated in the study, with 65.49% being female, 25.54% having an Associate Degree, 63.59% having a Bachelor’s degree, and the rest enrolled in postgraduate programs. Participants ranged from 17 to 40 years old, with nearly 56% coming from rural areas.

On average, students achieved a well-being score of 5.5; urban students, students, and wealthier participants significantly scored higher, but there was no statistical difference based on gender.

The researchers found a significantly negative correlation between smartphone addiction and well-being.

Smartphone addiction also positively correlated with loneliness. Regression models suggested that smartphone addiction was a significant predictor of lower well-being after loneliness was included in the model.

However, smartphone addiction predicted loneliness (slope = 0.28) and loneliness predicted well-being (slope = -0.04), while smartphone addiction still had a direct impact on well-being (slope = -0.05).

Based on these findings, the mediating effect of loneliness accounted for approximately 18.5% of the total impact of smartphone addiction on well-being. These results were validated through bootstrapping simulations.

Conclusions

This study built upon previous work that primarily focused on specific addictive behaviors related to excessive smartphone use, such as gaming addiction.

While the well-being of participating university students was related to their demographic background, including family income, education and hometown, it was observed that smartphone addiction decreases well-being and increases loneliness. Notably, no gender-specific differences were observed regarding well-being and loneliness.

Beyond the direct impact of smartphone addiction on well-being, it also indirectly influences the outcome through its effects on loneliness.

The influence of smartphones may be attributable to their association with reduced outdoor activities, sleep disturbances, depression, anxiety, and other mental consequences that affect overall quality of life.

These results may suggest that the social needs of college students are not being met, leading them to retreat into their phones.

However, theories suggest that excessive smartphone use may strengthen online relationships while weakening or diminishing offline interactions and relationships. This can lead to reduced social support structures and increased isolation.

This study underscores the need to improve students‘ well-being by combating smartphone addiction and strengthening institutional, familial, and peer support networks to reduce loneliness and isolation.

The cross-sectional nature of the survey and the subjective measures of well-being used may introduce biases and limit the causal interpretation of the results.

Future studies are needed to corroborate these findings through robust designs that integrate cross-sectional and longitudinal data and utilize objective measures of well-being.

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