Put Your Smartphone Down: Preliminary Evidence that Reducing Smartphone Use Improves Psychological Well-being in People with Poor Mental Health
Smartphones have become an integral part of our daily lives. Although there is evidence that there are positive aspects to smartphone use, overuse has also been shown to lead to poorer mental health. Surprisingly, there has been no empirical research investigating whether decreasing smartphone use improves mental health. Here, we examined whether an intervention designed to reduce smartphone use would have a positive impact on people’s psychological well-being. Participants (n = 60) completed a baseline inventory of psychological measures and questionnaires about their smartphone use, and then installed an app on their smartphone to objectively monitor their smartphone use. Following a 2-week intervention designed to reduce their smartphone use, participants again completed the inventory of psychological measures. We predicted that reductions in smartphone use would result in improvements in psychological well-being, particularly for those individuals whose psychological well-being was poor to start with. To test this prediction, we assigned participants to one of two symptomology groups according to their scores on clinical measures of depression and anxiety. Participants with higher levels of symptoms of depression or anxiety at baseline showed significant improvements in their psychological outcomes after the intervention, but participants with lower levels of symptoms of depression or anxiety did not. We conclude that smartphone interventions may be particularly beneficial for people whose mental health is poor to begin with.
Advisor: Hayne, Harlene; Gross, Julien
Degree Name: Master of Science
Degree Discipline: Psychology
Publisher: University of Otago
Keywords: smartphone; well-being; screentime; depression; anxiety
Research Type: Thesis