The University of Derby has conducted a study into the use of smartphones and found that 13% of participants have an addiction to their device. Most participants also said they feel their smartphones distract them from many areas of their lives, including their jobs, hobbies and studies.
Dr Zaheer Hussain, co-author of the study, said although the effects are not as harmful as smoking or drinking, but that the devices should still carry a health warning.
“People need to know the potential addictive properties of new technologies.
“It [the warning] could be before they purchase them or before they download an app. If you’re downloading a game such as Candy Crush or Flappy Bird there could be a warning saying that you could end up playing this for hours and you have other responsibilities [that could be neglected].”
The study consisted of 256 smartphone users. The users were asked questions about their personality traits and how they use their device. The study found the most popular apps to be social networking sites (87%) followed by instant messaging apps (52%).
Two traits commonly associated with addiction are narcissism and neuroticism. Authors of the study said smartphones can create narcissism in users. An example of this can be found in the study where 35% of participants admitted to using their phones in places that are banned (i.e. when driving), with many justifying their actions by saying they knew better than the authorities.
Almost half the participants said their smartphones had improved social relations, but a quarter admitted that they created communication problems ‘in real life’. Typical problems listed were breakdowns in communication and less conversation due to spending too much time on their device when with family and friends.
Hussain has a smartphone himself and says he is not against smartphones in general, but addiction to them is negative. He says he plans to carry out further research in the future, using a more diverse mix of people.