Problematic smartphone use, nature connectedness, and anxiety. (2018)

J Behav Addict. 2018 Mar 1;7(1):109-116. doi: 10.1556/2006.7.2018.10.

Richardson M1, Hussain Z1, Griffiths MD2.



Smartphone use has increased greatly at a time when concerns about society’s disconnection from nature have also markedly increased. Recent research has also indicated that smartphone use can be problematic for a small minority of individuals.


In this study, associations between problematic smartphone use (PSU), nature connectedness, and anxiety were investigated using a cross-sectional design (n = 244)


Associations between PSU and both nature connectedness and anxiety were confirmed. Receiver operating characteristic (ROC) curves were used to identify threshold values on the Problematic Smartphone Use Scale (PSUS) at which strong associations with anxiety and nature connectedness occur. The area under the curve was calculated and positive likelihood ratios used as a diagnostic parameter to identify optimal cut-off for PSU. These provided good diagnostic ability for nature connectedness, but poor and non-significant results for anxiety. ROC analysis showed the optimal PSUS threshold for high nature connectedness to be 15.5 (sensitivity: 58.3%; specificity: 78.6%) in response to an LR+ of 2.88.


The results demonstrate the potential utility for the PSUS as a diagnostic tool, with a level of smartphone use that users may perceive as non-problematic being a significant cut-off in terms of achieving beneficial levels of nature connectedness. Implications of these findings are discussed.

KEYWORDS: addiction; anxiety; nature connectedness; smartphones

PMID: 29415553

DOI: 10.1556/2006.7.2018.10