It’s been estimated that the average mobile phone user checks a device 150 times a day, and nearly a third of smartphone users admit that they’re addicted to their devices. Everyone knows that having your nose in your phone is a pretty unhealthy habit, but new research suggests that it could even be a sign of depression.
According to new Baylor University research, people who check their phones constantly could be trying to improve a negative mood.
The study, published in June in the journal Personality and Individual Differences and recently revived by the Daily Mail, investigates the link between phone addiction and personality, finding that excessive use may go hand-in-hand with emotional instability.
The researchers asked 346 college students to complete an online survey measuring smartphone use, Big Five personality traits (conscientiousness, neuroticism, openness, agreeableness and extraversion), materialism and need for arousal.
The data revealed that those who use their smartphones more frequently are more prone to moodiness, materialism and temperamental behavior, and are less able to focus their attention on the task at hand. (These two things may in fact go hand-in-hand, as a tendency to mind-wander has been associated with unhappy moods.) Unsurprisingly, people with impulsive personalities were also more prone to addictive smartphone use.
And despite stereotypes of introverts as being the ones at the party who sit in a corner fiddling with their iPhones, introversion was one quality that the researchers foundnot to be associated with smartphone addiction. Conscientiousness was also not associated with smartphone addiction.
“Much like a variety of substance addictions, cell phone addiction may be an attempt at mood repair,” the study’s authors wrote. “Incessant checking of emails, sending texts, tweeting, and surfing the web may act as pacifiers for the unstable individual distracting him or herself from the worries of the day and providing solace, albeit temporarily, from such concerns.”
Pervious research has also linked addictive smartphone behavior with loneliness and shyness, poor sleep and less engagement at work.