Does Smartphone Addiction Fall on a Continuum of Addictive Behaviors? (2020)

Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2020 Jan 8;17(2). pii: E422. doi: 10.3390/ijerph17020422.

Yu S1, Sussman S1,2.


Due to the high accessibility and mobility of smartphones, widespread and pervasive smartphone use has become the social norm, exposing users to various health and other risk factors. There is, however, a debate on whether addiction to smartphone use is a valid behavioral addiction that is distinct from similar conditions, such as Internet and gaming addiction. The goal of this review is to gather and integrate up-to-date research on measures of smartphone addiction (SA) and problematic smartphone use (PSU) to better understand (a) if they are distinct from other addictions that merely use the smartphone as a medium, and (b) how the disorder(s) may fall on a continuum of addictive behaviors that at some point could be considered an addiction. A systematic literature search adapted from the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses (PRISMA) method was conducted to find all relevant articles on SA and PSU published between 2017 and 2019. A total of 108 articles were included in the current review. Most studies neither distinguished SA from other technological addictions nor clarified whether SA was an addiction to the actual smartphone device or to the features that the device offers. Most studies also did not directly base their research on a theory to explain the etiologic origins or causal pathways of SA and its associations. Suggestions are made regarding how to address SA as an emerging behavioral addiction.

KEYWORDS: problematic smartphone use; smartphone addiction

PMID: 31936316

DOI: 10.3390/ijerph17020422