Study: Cell phone usage is more problematic in the pandemic

BOCHUM (dpa-AFX) – Researchers at the Ruhr University Bochum see a connection between “problematic” smartphone use and the feeling of losing control during the pandemic. The study was published on Wednesday in the journal “PLOS ONE”. “With the control in the online world, the respondents tried to compensate for the loss of control caused by Corona,” says co-author and psychologist Julia Brailovskaia, describing the effect.

Previous studies have shown that smartphone use has risen sharply in the pandemic. During the online survey in spring 2021, the 516 respondents used their mobile phones for an average of 3.14 hours a day. The span ranged from a minimum of 6 to a maximum of 418 minutes (almost seven hours). The cell phone can help maintain daily routines and social contacts, the authors write. It becomes problematic when relationships, work or mental or physical health are impaired as a result.

The researchers not only asked the test subjects to indicate their smartphone usage. They also had to answer questions about feelings of lack of control, fear of missing out, and recurring negative thoughts. A statistical connection between problematic smartphone use and these factors was shown. The authors emphasize that this is not proof of a causal connection.

Brailovskaia spoke of a sometimes addictive use of the smartphone. The intensive use was not questioned. The respondents reacted aggressively if they were approached by their social environment about the high level of use. According to Brailovskaia, previous studies have shown that exercise and sport help to reduce problematic cell phone use. “It’s banal, but I can’t be online when doing sports,” said the dpa./lic/DP/jha researcher

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