Excessive phone use linked to depression

Due to our dependence on smartphones, they’re almost always within reach. We hold onto them every waking hour as if they’re the key to our lives and we check them obsessively—at a rate of 150 times per day—for updates from our social networks and contacts.

In an upcoming issue of the journal Personality and Individual Differences, researchers from Baylo University in Texas investigated the links between “cell phone addiction” and a variety of personality and psychological conditions.

Yahoo Australia reports, “During the study, 364 participants were asked to complete a questionnaire about their personality type as well as their relationship with their mobile phones. As well as emotional stability, scientists also found that ‘attention impulsiveness’ (an inability to focus on the task at hand) had a significant link with mobile phone addiction.”

“Couched in Mowen’s (2000) 3M Hierarchical Model of Personality, the elemental traits of emotional instability and materialism were positively associated while introversion was negatively associated with cell phone addiction. The central trait of attention impulsiveness exhibited a direct and positive association with cell phone addiction. A significant negative relationship between conscientiousness and all three dimensions of Barratt’s impulsiveness scale (central trait) was found. Several additional relationships between the elemental traits of Mowen’s personality hierarchy and the three dimensions of impulsiveness (central trait) also were uncovered,” the researchers described in the paper’s abstract.

In simpler terms, they found that those who exhibited symptoms of cell phone addiction were also more likely to be emotionally unstable or materialistic. On the other hand, introverts, being “negatively associated with cell phone addiction,” tend to be less dependent on their mobile devices. It is further stated that a moody and temperamental person “may be more likely addicted to their cell phone than more stable individuals.”

The working hypothesis is that phones are being used as a tool to help improve one’s emotional state, functioning as “mood enhancers” in ways similar to antidepressants. The researchers wrote, “Much like a variety of substance addictions, cell phone addiction may be an attempt at mood repair...distracting him or herself from the worries of the day and providing solace, albeit temporarily, from such concerns.”

If you feel like you’re on your phone more than the average person, you could be addicted. And that could be a sign of a much deeper problem, which you probably should have checked out.

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