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Abstract

The aim of this work is to analyze both the reasons that young adults exhibit phubbing behaviors and the effects of these behaviors on their lives. Following a qualitative research approach, this study has been designed using a case study method. Selected using the criterion sampling method, participants consisted of a total of 9 university students studying in a School of Education in Turkey. The criterion used to include individuals into the sample group was ‘using a smartphone instead of actively participating in an on-going discussion being had by one’s surrounding peers’ as well as a high score on the Phubbing Scale form. Data were obtained using a semi-structured interview form composed of 18 open-ended questions. Both a descriptive and content analysis were used to evaluate the data. The study’s findings revealed that not only did smartphones negatively affect interpersonal relations, but also that phubbers lacked communication skills, experienced difficulty establishing and maintaining eye contact while using a smartphone, and misunderstood what was being discussed. Some participants even stated that they would become completely disconnected from the social environment while using a smartphone. It is argued in the discussion section that since smartphones have all the same features and abilities as traditional computers, they carry the same potential addictions as computers. Yet, instead of being restricted to a table, these addictions are now able to manifest in every aspect, environment, and moment of one’s life. As such, since phubbing carries with it a type of addiction that is much more devious and pervasion than most previous virtual reality related addictions, it is recommended that further research be conducted before serious psychopathological and sociological problems begin to manifest themselves throughout the population.
Received: April 29, 2016
Revision received: October 21, 2016
Accepted: October 23, 2016
OnlineFirst: November 15, 2016
Copyright © 2016 Turkish Green Crescent Society
ISSN 2148-7286 eISSN 2149-1305
http://addicta.com.tr/en/
DOI 10.15805/addicta.2016.3.0013 Autumn 2016 3(2) 250269
Extended Abstract
ADDICTA: THE TURKISH JOURNAL ON ADDICTIONS
Citation: Karadağ, E., Tosuntaş, Ş. B., Erzen, E., Duru, P., Bostan, N., Mızrak Şahin, B., ... Babadağ, B. (2016). The virtual
world’s current addiction: Phubbing. Addicta: The Turkish Journal on Addiction, 3, 250–269. http://dx.doi.org/10.15805/
addicta.2016.3.0013
1 Correspondence to: Engin Karadağ (PhD), Faculty of Education, Eskişehir Osmangazi University, Meşelik, Eskişehir
26480 Turkey. Email: enginkaradag@ogu.edu.tr & engin.karadag@hotmail.com
2 Faculty of Education, Eskişehir Osmangazi University, Meşelik, Eskişehir 26480 Turkey. Email: sbtosuntas@hotmail.com
3 Faculty of Education, Artvin Çoruh University, Artvin 08000 Turkey. Email: evrenerzen@artvin.edu.tr
4 Faculty of Health Sciences, Eskişehir Osmangazi University, Meşelik, Eskişehir 26480 Turkey. Email: pinarduruu@hotmail.com
5 Faculty of Health Sciences, Eskişehir Osmangazi University, Meşelik, Eskişehir 26480 Turkey. Email: nbostan3@hotmail.com
6 Faculty of Health Sciences, Eskişehir Osmangazi University, Meşelik, Eskişehir 26480 Turkey. Email: bmizrak5@hotmail.com
7 Faculty of Health Sciences, Eskişehir Osmangazi University, Meşelik, Eskişehir 26480 Turkey. Email: ilkayc.ilkay@gmail.com
8 Faculty of Health Sciences, Eskişehir Osmangazi University, Meşelik, Eskişehir 26480 Turkey. Email: burcubabadag1@gmail.com
Abstract
The aim of this work is to analyze both the reasons that young adults exhibit phubbing behaviors and the effects of
these behaviors on their lives. Following a qualitative research approach, this study has been designed using a case study
method. Selected using the criterion sampling method, participants consisted of a total of 9 university students studying in
a School of Education in Turkey. The criterion used to include individuals into the sample group was ‘using a smartphone
instead of actively participating in an on-going discussion being had by one’s surrounding peers’ as well as a high score on the
Phubbing Scale form. Data were obtained using a semi-structured interview form composed of 18 open-ended questions.
Both a descriptive and content analysis were used to evaluate the data. The study’s findings revealed that not only did
smartphones negatively affect interpersonal relations, but also that phubbers lacked communication skills, experienced
difficulty establishing and maintaining eye contact while using a smartphone, and misunderstood what was being discussed.
Some participants even stated that they would become completely disconnected from the social environment while using
a smartphone. It is argued in the discussion section that since smartphones have all the same features and abilities as
traditional computers, they carry the same potential addictions as computers. Yet, instead of being restricted to a table, these
addictions are now able to manifest in every aspect, environment, and moment of one’s life. As such, since phubbing carries
with it a type of addiction that is much more devious and pervasion than most previous virtual reality related addictions, it
is recommended that further research be conducted before serious psychopathological and sociological problems begin to
manifest themselves throughout the population.
Keywords
Phubbing • Phubber • Smartphone • Addiction • Social media • Internet • Game • Application
The Virtual World’s Current Addiction: Phubbing
Engin Karadağ1
Eskişehir Osmangazi University
Şule Betül Tosuntaş2
Eskişehir Osmangazi University
Evren Erzen3
Artvin Çoruh University
Pınar Duru4
Eskişehir Osmangazi University
Nalan Bostan5
Eskişehir Osmangazi University
Berrak Mızrak Şahin6
Eskişehir Osmangazi University
İlkay Çulha7
Eskişehir Osmangazi University
Burcu Babadağ8
Eskişehir Osmangazi University
Karadağ, Tosuntaş, Erzen, Duru, Bostan, Mızrak Şahin , Çulha, Babadağ / The Virtual World’s Current Addiction: Phubbing
251
With the advent of computers, a number of previously unseen problems have
arisen. More recently however, these problems have gained a new dimension with
the advent of smart phones. Having the same abilities as traditional computers, smart
phones possess a wide array of features, including not only the ability to access the
internet, but also to take photographs and record videos. More recent smart phones
included advanced writing and drawing programs as well as game applications. All
of these have come together causing a new, growing concern in real life: phubbing.
Phubbing can be described as an individual looking at his or her smartphone during
a real-life conversation with other individuals, being engrossed in one’s smartphone,
and avoiding interpersonal communication. Constructed by merging the words
phone and snubbing, the term phubbing has made its way into the updated version of
Macquarie Dictionary. This specic smart phone addiction might be considered the
trouble of our age. Due to smart phones’ make-up, phubbing is an issue that shares
commonalities with a wide number of addictions. While there is not enough evidence
related to this phenomenon, we have been led to believe that due to smart phones
numerous features and ability to access the internet, phubbing is a multi-dimensional
phenomenon. These dimensions are (i) smartphone addiction, (ii) internet addiction,
(iii) social media addiction, and (iv) game addiction. When carefully examined, it is
seen that all of these addictions themselves are of a nested and complex nature. It
should be noted that not only is phubbing more common, but its possible effects can
be more devastating than has been thought. For example, an average of 36 phubbing
cases are observed in a single restaurant during lunch, which is equivalent to spending
570 days alone while being with others. Moreover, 97% of individuals perceive their
meals to taste worse while phubbing. Even more shocking is the nding that 87% of
adolescents prefer to communicate via messages over face-to-face communication
(http://stopphubbing.com).
Smartphone Addiction
Just as technology eases life, so does it cause a number of previously unseen
problems in it. In the industrialized world, life requires faster access to various kinds
of information as well as faster interactions and communication. This increasingly
fast-paced lifestyle has caused many concepts, such as time, the perception of needs,
and a sense of fun to have undergone fundamental changes. The hunger for more
technology has consequences, such as excessive technology usage (Davis, 2001),
high level of involvement in technology (Charlton & Danforth, 2007), and nally
technology addiction (Turel, Serenko, & Giles, 2011). Technology addiction has been
dened by the DSM-IV criteria for addiction as a psychological problem related to
the inharmonious use of technology. This addiction depends mostly on factors that,
for the most part, entered human life with the advent of computers. Equipped with the
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252
same features and abilities as traditional computers, smart phones have the potential
to be highly addictive objects.
Phubbing is a concept with many possible dynamics, such as being disrespectful
toward another person or persons, disregard for others, and a preference for virtual
environments over real-life ones. While phubbing can be based on applications, such
as the internet or games transferred from one’s computer to his or her smartphone,
the very intrinsic nature of smartphones may themselves provoke addiction. In
addition, the fact that one can now access the internet and games via smartphones
has shifted internet addiction to another venue. As such, smartphones and internet
addiction exist in a circular relationship, each triggering the other. For example, if
the time one spends surng the internet increases, so does phone addiction. However,
problematic phone usage is seen as a behavioral addiction identical to the ubiquitous
use of smartphones, even in prohibited environments, such as while driving (Bianchi
& Philips, 2005). Researchers investigating smartphone addiction have shown that
while smartphones are used as a tool to overcome loneliness and the need to manage
oneself, anxiety, worry, and deprivation disorder behaviors are observed in addicted
individuals who have been separated from their phone (Park, 2005); impulsivity
(Billieux, Van der Linden, d’Acremont, Ceschi, & Zermatten, 2007; Billieux, Van der
Linden, & Rochat, 2008). Leung (2007) has also shown one’s need to be stimulated
affects phone addiction. In light of these ndings, phubbing, it may be claimed, is
associated with phone addiction.
Internet Addiction
In addition to offering a variety of conveniences to daily life, computers are also
the source of a number of negative effects on humans. Individuals’ exaggerated use
of computers has led researchers to investigate the concept of computer addiction
(Grifths, 2000; Shaffer, 2002; Shotton, 1991). These studies suggest that computers
are not the problem in and of themselves, but that problems arise as a result of the
applications loaded on them. Playing games (Charlton & Danforth, 2007; Weinstein,
2010; Wood, 2008) and staying online for extended periods of time (Chou & Hsiao,
2000; Lin & Tsai, 2002; Yang & Tung, 2007) are examples of such cases.
In the past decade, both the duration and frequency of the internet use have increased
(Dong, Lu, Zhou, & Zhao, 2011; Smahel, Brown, & Blinka, 2012), rendering the
question as to whether the increased duration of computer usage enslaves people to
have gained importance. Internet addiction research, which began with an e-mail sent
by Dr. Ivan Goldberg (1996) to his friends, joking about excessive internet usage by
modifying the agents of pathological gambling disorder [can be found in DSM-IV
(American Psychiatric Association, 1995)]. Combined with the fact that the period
of time spent on the internet triggers pathological internet use (Nalwa & Anand,
Karadağ, Tosuntaş, Erzen, Duru, Bostan, Mızrak Şahin , Çulha, Babadağ / The Virtual World’s Current Addiction: Phubbing
253
2003), internet addiction became a new and signicant research topic (Ceyhan, 2008;
Ghamari, Mohammadbeigi, Mohammadsalehi, & Hashiani 2011).
Studies on internet addiction have been grouped into two different views. The
rst view considers internet addiction to be a new disorder whereas the second
advocates that it is actually the content (porn, games, e-mail) accessed that
constitutes problematic internet use (Yellowlees & Marks, 2007). As a result of years
of research, it can be said that the reasons individuals spend such large amounts
of time on the internet include the desire to access sexual content (Grifths, 2012;
Pallanti, Bernardi, & Quercioli, 2006; Frangos, Frangos, & Kiohos, 2010), games
and entertainment (Gilbert, Murphy, & McNally, 2011; Ceyhan, 2010; Öztürk &
Özmen, 2011), and communication and socialization (Akçay, 2011; Balcı & Gülnar,
2009; Ceyhan, 2011). In summary, although the increase in time spent on the internet
(Smahel, Brown, & Blinka, 2012; Lin & Tsai, 2002), improved access to the internet
(Hall & Parsons, 2001), and the desire to access vast amounts of content via the
internet (Hawi, 2012) all show that internet use may have become a problem, no
consensus has yet to be reached in naming the existing problems.
There exists a wide variety of denitions for the problems caused by the internet
in the literature. Although excessive internet use, itself being one of the problems
listed, is mostly dened as excessive or poorly controlled preoccupation, urges, or
behaviors regarding computer use and internet access that lead to impairment or
distress (Weinstein & Lejoyeux, 2010). In some studies, it is used synonymously
with internet addiction (Hansen, 2002; Hardie, & Tee, 2007). Some researchers
have suggested that considering excessive internet users as internet addicts is
wrong, arguing that such individuals use the internet this excessively in order to
satisfy other addictions, such as sex and communication related addictions (Grifths,
1999). Dened as media consumption having evolved as a result of insufcient self-
regulation (La Rose, Lin, & Eastin, 2003), the term “irregular internet use” is also
used to express the negative usage patterns. Improper internet use is a term mostly
used to dene the use of the internet to access content regarded as undesirable or
negative, such as porn, gambling, or other similar content (Durkin, 1997; Hope,
2007; Khazaal, Xirossavidou, Khan, Edel, Zeboun, & Zullino, 2012; Parker, Taylor,
Eastabrook, Schell, & Wood, 2008; Tsitsika, Critselis, Kormas et al., 2009). Different
denitions, based on various factors, such as the degree and nature of internet usage
habits, are not limited to those listed. Pathological internet use (Morahan-Martin,
& Schumacher, 2000; Davis, 2001), problematic internet use (Caplan, 2002; Odacı
& Çıkrıkçı, 2014; Shapira, Goldsmith, Keck Jr, Khosla, & McElroy, 2000; Shapira,
Lessig Goldsmith et al., 2003), problematic internet behavior, excessive internet use
(Bener, Al-Mahdi, Ali, Al-Nufal, Vachhani, & Tewk, 2011; Wright, Tone, Dyck et
al., 2005), internet abuse (Young & Case, 2004), and cyber addiction are other terms
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254
that are used (Hua, 2005). In summary, although there are different approaches, it
can be said that there is indeed a consensus in the literature that the internet can
be addictive. Moreover, the internet, with its variety of media-related tools, is an
addiction object itself, which has leads to the development of a powerful new type of
addiction: social media.
Social Media Addiction
Almost dened as an addiction itself (Karaiskos, Tzavellas, Balta, &
Paparrigopoulos, 2010; Turel & Serenko, 2012), social media is a communication
channel where highly complex interactions are intertwined. Including a wide array
of elements such as games, communication, information exchange, and the sharing
of multimedia, social media has not only encouraged people to begin using the
internet and to remain online it has also encouraged those using it to move from
using traditional computers to smart phones. While using a traditional computer to
access social media on a traditional computer requires one to remain at a desk or
table, smart phones, with their ability to be carried everywhere, have allowed people
to access social media at virtually any time and place, thereby becoming an integral
part of an individual. Smart phones, whose usage has increased compared to other
types of phones (Smith, 2012), are also used to download and use a vast number
of applications (Falaki, Mahajan, Kandula et al., 2010). The most frequently used
applications are game applications along with applications on social media sites. In
other words, social media maintains a signicant place among the various different
addictions brought upon by smart phones (Kwon et al., 2013). Although people
access social media through their smartphones, it should not be forgotten that social
media is just one of the various addictions caused by smartphones and that the phone
addictions would still exist even if social media did not.
On the top of the list of social sharing sites whose habitual usage has become an
addiction are Facebook (Andreassen, Torsheim, Brunborg, & Pallesen, 2012) and
Twitter (Malita, 2011). Motivated by entertainment and social interaction, Facebook
(Dhaha, 2013) is a complex blend of various multimedia tools allowing one to access
pictures, music, videos, entertainment, and online games. Interacting in ways similar
to how they would in real life, Facebook users also nd inclusion into social groups in
which they have the ability to share information and personal views, to communicate
with familiar and unfamiliar people, and to make video calls. Although Facebook’s
initial purpose was to communicate with friends that one had not seen for a long time,
research shows that the most common reason for using Facebook is to view others’
proles (69.57%) and to look at their photos (58.70%) (Pempek, Yermolayeva, &
Calvert, 2009). Twitter, on the other hand, has gained popularity for its features
allowing users to contact many people at the same time, to received messages (called
Karadağ, Tosuntaş, Erzen, Duru, Bostan, Mızrak Şahin , Çulha, Babadağ / The Virtual World’s Current Addiction: Phubbing
255
tweets) at undened periods of time, and to respond to others’ tweets instantly. These
features have rendered Twitter into an addiction not only for the many individuals who
use it to follow someone, but also individuals considered by others to have answers to
specic questions or who generates ideas about subjects, who are themselves followed
by others (Malita, 2011). In summary, since smart phones allow social networks,
such as Facebook and Twitter to be accessible at any moment without needing to
access a traditional computer, individuals can make social media a real-time part of
their life. In other words, many individuals make a concerted effort to maintain their
presence on one or several social networking sites while living their real lives. In
doing this however, they are diminishing the value of their real-life activities, as is
the case for phubbing. In phubbing, individuals’ efforts to maintain their presence in
the real world through social media are engaged in a variety of multimedia posts and
sharing, making use of specic applications. The most commonly used applications
are gaming applications. However, it must be noted that gaming is itself an important
issue that can be addictive both within and beyond social media contexts.
Game Addiction
Among the various manifestations of phubbing, games are another source of
addiction just as important as the phone addiction. Individuals who lack time
management skills play games to escape from problems and as a mental relaxation
tool (Wood, 2008). Game addiction (Weinstein, 2010), referring to online games
(Charlton & Danfoth, 2010; Kim, Namkoong, Ku, & Kim, 2008; Lo, Wang, & Fang,
2005; Young, 2009), video games (Chiu, Lee, & Huang, 2004; Kim, Namkoong, Ku,
& Kim, 2008), and computer games (Grüsser, Thalemann, & Grifths, 2006), all of
which have substantially the same origin, means to play computer games to the extent
that it affects one’s personal and/or professional life and is regarded as an addictive
behavior. Factors that increase one’s addiction to games include being engaged in
a game for long periods of time, immediately being reward even for the smallest
progress made in a game, and levels varying according to a person’s performance.
Chou and Ting (2003) stated that a sense of ow has a signicant impact on individuals’
addiction to games. Gaming maintains a signicant place among the various activities
considered as phubbing. Although smart phones or computers are the vehicle one
uses to satisfy his game addiction, these kinds of addictions are mutually related
and are therefore difcult to separate from each other. Another example of these
mutual relations is game and social media addiction. Games such as Candy Crush
(Walsh, White, & Young, 2008) and Angry Birds (Böhmer, Hecht, Schöning, Krüger,
& Bauer, 2011), which are among the most widely played games on Facebook, can
now be accessed by millions of people and are becoming almost addictive. Social
media in general, and Facebook in particular, has become the medium for spreading
many of these and other similar games.
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Despite being described as the end of civilization in popular journals and newspapers
and as a chronic addiction of the digital age in academic articles, phubbing has yet
to become a research topic of its own. It is necessary to examine the fundamental
addictions of phubbing as it shares several fundamental characteristics with a number
of other addictions. As such, the aim of this work is to describe phubbing behaviors,
the reasons individuals exhibit these behaviors, and the effects phubbing has on the
lives of young adults exhibiting phubbing behaviors. In doing so, it is hoped that this
study will contribute new and relevant ndings to the literature. In order to realize
this goal, answers to the following questions were solicited:
What are phubbers’ views on:
Frequent smartphone use?
Their reasons for using a smartphone?
Why they feel the need to use a smartphone?
How they feel when they are not actively using a smartphone?
The meanings they attribute to their smartphone?
How smartphones have changed the way people live?
How they feel, think, and act when they are phubbed?
Their relations with friends?
Interacting with their environment?
Method
This study follows a qualitative research approach using a case study design. Nine
students studying in a School of Education in Turkey were selected to participate
in the research. Participants were selected using the criterion sampling method.
The criterion used to select students was dened in a two-step process. In the
rst step, since phubbing occurs when an individual uses a smartphone in a social
environment, individuals’ phubbing behaviors were observed in a dened social
environment. As such, it was decided that the criterion ‘using a smartphone instead
of actively participating in an on-going discussion being had by one’s surrounding
peers should be used to include students into the study group. In the second step,
the Phubbing Scale (Karadağ et al., 2015), a 5-point Likert scale composed of a
total of 10 items measuring (i) Communication Disorders (5 items; α = .87) and (ii)
Telephone Obsession (5 items; α = .85), was used. A score of 40 or more indicated
an addiction to phubbing. The Phubbing Scale was applied to participants after
they had been observed for at least one hour in a social environment in which they
Karadağ, Tosuntaş, Erzen, Duru, Bostan, Mızrak Şahin , Çulha, Babadağ / The Virtual World’s Current Addiction: Phubbing
257
were seen exhibiting multiple instances of phubbing behaviors. Although there was
no signicant difference in the number of men and women in the specic social
environment in which the observations took place, it was observed that female
students exhibited more instances of phubbing behaviors. Moreover, since females
tended to score higher (40 or more points) on the Phubbing Scale, the majority of
participants (89%) were female. In order to ensure anonymity, participants were given
codes, with female participants coded as “F1, F2, ... F8” and male participants as
“M1.” Participants’ personal information is presented in Table 1. Data were collected
using a semi-structured interview form. The interview form was composed of 18
open-ended questions and was brought together after having performed a review of
the related literature. Interviews lasted approximately 30 minutes and, after having
received permission from the participants, were voice recorded. The data obtained
from the interviews were then subjected to both a descriptive and content analysis
for interpretation.
Findings
Phubbers’ Views on Their Reasons for Using a Smartphone
Three sub-themes related to why young adults exhibiting phubbing behaviors use
smartphones were revealed: (i) social media, (ii) communication, and (iii) difculty
conversing with others in real-life. These three sub-themes and their codes are
presented in Table 3. Under the social media sub-theme, participants stated that they
most frequently used social media to read comments and to follow posts shared by
others. Under the communication sub-theme, participants stated that they most often
used smartphones to send and receive messages. The female participants further
emphasized that they used their smartphones to communicate with their signicant
other. Under the difculty conversing with others in real-life sub-theme, participants
most frequently stated that they felt the need to use their smartphone due to feeling
bored or uncomfortable in their environment.
Phubbers’ Views on Why They Feel the Need to Use a Smartphone
Participants’ views on why they feel the need to use a smartphone are presented in
Table 4. This theme is composed of the following 4 sub-themes: (i) communication,
(ii) social media, (iii) emotional needs, and (iv) relationships. Listed under the
communication sub-theme were participants’ communicated-related needs in which
participants stated that they most often used smartphones to stay in contact with
their family and friends. Social media related needs were collected under the social
media sub-theme, for which participants stated that they needed a smartphone to
share information and updates, to look at photographs, and to follow the news or
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258
other current developments. Participants’ reasons related to emotional needs were
grouped under the sub-theme emotional needs, with participants’ most frequently
cited emotion being loneliness. Listed under the relationships sub-theme were needs
related to participants’ private lives. Participants most frequently stated that they
needed a smartphone to communicate with their family members and friends living
far away from them.
Phubbers’ Views on How They Feel When They Are Not Actively Using a Smartphone
Participants’ views on how they feel when not actively using a smartphone
are presented in Table 5. While participants’ most commonly expressed feelings
were those of tension, unease, anxiousness, and worry, they also stated that they
experienced feelings of expectation, hope, and curiosity.
Phubbers’ Views on the Meanings They Attribute to Their Smartphone
Individuals exhibiting phubbing behaviors attribute certain meanings to their
smartphones. Presented in Table 6 are the meanings that participants attribute to their
smartphone. These meanings have been divided into three sub-themes: (i) a tool for
communication, (ii) a part of one’s body, and (iii) a central role in one’s life. The most
commonly cited meaning falling under the communication sub-theme was smartphones’
ability to easily contact people faraway. The fact that participants stated that smartphones
were a part of one’s body is of note, as it indicates participants’ understanding that their
smartphone completes them. Falling under the sub-theme in which a smartphone is
considered to ll a central role in one’s life were such meanings as smartphones being
an integral part of one’s life, their being indispensable, and their being everything to
a person. As understood from their statements, participants considered smartphones to
fulll an indispensable need in various aspects of their lives.
Phubbers’ Views on How Smartphones Have Changed the Way People Live
Presented in Table 7 are participants’ views on how smartphones have changed
the way people live. The three sub-themes falling under this theme are (i) their effect
on interpersonal relations, (ii) their effect on personal development, and (iii) their
negative effect on people’s personalities. Participants stated that smartphones had
both positive and negative effects on interpersonal relations. As their understanding
of how smartphones contribute to personal development, participants listed exposure
to new perspectives and the ability to access information quickly and easily as being
among the benets to using smartphones. The most commonly cited negative effect
of smartphones was their addictive nature.
Karadağ, Tosuntaş, Erzen, Duru, Bostan, Mızrak Şahin , Çulha, Babadağ / The Virtual World’s Current Addiction: Phubbing
259
Phubbers’ Views on How They Feel, Think, and Act When They Are Phubbed
Presented in Table 8 are participants’ views on how they feel, think, and act
when they are phubbed. This category’s three sub-themes are (i) feeling empathy,
(ii) reactionary behaviors, and (iii) experiencing negative emotions. Upon being
phubbed, participants stated that they empathized with those whom they might
have phubbed, realizing that they too exhibit similar behaviors disliked by them.
Participants stated that they most frequently exhibited reactionary behaviors when
they did not have their conversation partner’ full attention, choosing to use his or her
smartphone instead. While a number of participants stated that they only reacted in
such a way to their close friends, others stated that they would only remain silent in
such situations. Under the experiencing negative emotions sub-theme, participants
most frequently stated feeling disrespected and disvalued.
Phubbers’ Views on Their Relations with Friends
Presented in Table 9 are participants’ views on how phubbing behaviors affect their
relations with friends. The four sub-themes falling under this theme are (i) warning
and reaction, (ii) awareness, (iii) negative feelings experienced by the other party, and
(iv) the normalization of such behaviors. Participants stated that family members and
friends were most likely to exhibit behaviors falling into the warning and reaction sub-
theme. Under the awareness sub-theme, participants stated that not only did they feel
excluded from the social environment and unable to partake in conversations, but that
the other party was unable to establish and maintain eye contact. Participants further
stated that they felt bad in such situations. Under the negative feelings experienced
by the other party sub-theme, participants stated that they felt that their conversation
partner was not taking them seriously while using a smartphone. Participants stated
reasons why people felt comfortable exhibiting phubbing behaviors in a group under
the normalization of such behaviors sub-theme. Under this sub-theme, participants
stated that people most often justied their phubbing behaviors by claiming that
using a smartphone has become a very important affair, that everyone exhibits such
behaviors, that people have become accustomed to such behaviors, and that no one
feels uncomfortable when it happens.
Phubbers’ Views on How They Interact with Their Environment
Participants’ views on how smartphones have affected the way they interact with
their environment and perceive events around them are presented in Table 10. The four
sub-themes grouped under this theme are (i) lack of understanding of what is being
said, (ii) being completely closed off to one’s environment, (iii) the ability to divide
one’s attention in two directions, and (iv) eye contact. Participants stated that they
experienced problems interacting with their environment while exhibiting phubbing
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260
behaviors. The most frequently cited issues related to a lack of understanding of what
is being said are not fully perceiving what is being communicated and an acute loss
of attention. As for being completely closed off to one’s environment, participants
stated that they might completely miss what was being discussed or would experience
communication disconnect. A number of participants did state, however, that they were
able to remain connected to the real-life conversation while sending and receiving
messages on their smartphone, an ability that falls under the ability to divide one’s
attention in two directions. With this being said however, participants also stated, in
relation to the eye contact sub-theme, that they not only felt bad when they could not
establish eye contact, but that they felt that eye contact was forced and only for show.
Discussion
Since humans are social creatures and since smartphones have permeated into a
wide number of areas of life, it is only expected that smartphones might provoke
change in a wide number of contexts, including social life. Recognizing these
developments, this work has attempted to contribute to the literature on this subject by
shedding light on the phubbing behaviors of young adults exhibiting such behaviors,
their reasons for exhibiting them, the effects of such behaviors, and other ndings
revealed as a result of this study.
This work found that such behaviors as looking at one’s phone every minute and
looking at one’s phone every ve minutes were most commonly cited by participants
when asked about how frequently they used a smartphone. The most valuable nding
of this study is that students were found to use their smartphones heavily and in excess
of one hour per day (Tutgun-Ünal & Arslan, 2013). A previous study on university
students found similar results. Arslan and Tutgun-Ünal (2013) found that more than
half of the students attending the university in their study had used a smartphone
for at least six years and that they used it for at least one hour a day. There exists a
large number of studies in the literature conducted on young individuals, excessive
smartphone use, and smartphone addiction that not only support the ndings of this
study, but that also bring to light the seriousness of the situation at hand (Bianchi &
Philips, 2005; Ha et al., 2007; Lee & Hwang, 2009; Walsh, White, & Young, 2008).
Supporting this idea are the ndings obtained stating that university students allocate
an excessive amount of time each day to use their smartphones, with this excessive
allocation of time being one of the fundamental dynamics of phubbing. With this
being said however, the dynamics behind individuals’ allotment of so much time to
use their smartphones are still not completely clear. That research on this specic
issue has yet to come to full fruition and that new technology is continuously being
integrated into telephones with each passing day renders it ever more difcult to
determine the reasons behind and the effects of such excessive use.
Karadağ, Tosuntaş, Erzen, Duru, Bostan, Mızrak Şahin , Çulha, Babadağ / The Virtual World’s Current Addiction: Phubbing
261
The fact that females listed sharing information with their signicant other as
being among their reasons for using smartphones is of signicance. Similar to the
ndings of a number of previous studies (Brown, 2013), although participants stated
that they preferred using their smartphone to remain in contact with people living in
distant places, when this desire is further questioned, it is found that the dominant use
of smartphones among university students was to communicate with their signicant
other. Özaşçılar (2012) found that the participants in his study expressed feeling of
annoyance when their family members used smartphones to constantly check up on
them. This nding lends support to the fact that using smartphones to communicate
with one’s signicant other is more important than communicating with one’s family
members. Mante and Paris (2002) found that the vast majority of young individuals
preferred using smartphones’ messaging features to communicate with their signicant
other. The fact that female participants in particular used smartphones to communicate
with their signicant other gives pause to think about the traditional understanding in
which females are apprehensive of discussing personal, sensitive issues and events
with their boyfriends. It is thought that smartphones’ being increasingly used to send
and receive messages combined with female participants’ apprehension of discussing
personal issues with their boyfriends have caused phubbing behaviors to increase
among individuals. On the other hand, being in constant contact allows females the
ability to keep up with their signicant other throughout the day, a desire which may
stem from females’ distrust of men, from a desire to keep track of their signicant
other, and/or from a desire to control his behaviors. Future studies may contribute
to the eld by researching not only whether females use smartphones as a tool to
control men’s behaviors and actions, but also the link between such addiction-type
relations and phubbing. All of the ndings indicate that people are increasingly
using telephone technology to gain control over their environment. It must be made
clear however, that this desire to control others is not limited to one’s signicant
other. Since information is able to be transferred at such high speeds and shared on
such a wide variety of platforms, including on the internet, another type of control
mechanism has begun to emerge: social media.
This study reports that individuals exhibiting phubbing behaviors in social
environments are most likely to use a smartphone to read comments on social media
networks, to look at photographs, to follow the news and current events, and to share
daily occurrences. Karaduman and Kurt (2010) found that students use social media
rst and foremost to communicate with others followed by using it to share their own
daily occurrences and follow those of others. Furthermore, Sönmez (2013) found
that the participants in his study most frequently used smartphones to connect to
Facebook, stating that females in particular used Facebook to look at other people’s
photographs. That females found pleasure in looking at photographs depicting other
people’s private lives indicates that in addition to reading posts and comments, the
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262
ability to follow changes in another’s life by looking at personal photographs satises
a number of psychological needs in an individual. A recent trend, called photolurking
in the literature, in which an individual takes another person’s photograph and,
without his or her knowledge, discusses its details with a third party in a different
setting (Khalid & Dix, 2007) has become yet another aspect of phubbing due to
smartphones’ ever increasing capabilities and iniquitousness. Participants exhibiting
phubbing behaviors have been found to use posts on social media networks to follow
the daily activities and developments of their friends and acquaintances, resulting in
high instances of photo lurking, where they examine the post, read what has been
said about it, and then make their own comments on it. Although information’s ability
to be transferred at such high speeds has facilitated people’s ability to control their
environment, the current modus operandi has become one indicating heavy addiction.
The ndings of this study reveal the reasons why an individual feels the urge to use a
smartphone. People’s desire to remain in constant contact with others, their desire to
follow and control what is happening around themselves, the fact that obtaining news
on individuals’ private lives has now become a fundamental part of people’s lives, the
fact using the internet to access social media networks has become almost ubiquitous,
and the ability to obtain news from social media provide behavioral clues to just
what these urges may be. In addition to these behavioral clues, knowing what their
accompanying emotional reactions are and what emotional needs an individual is
trying to fulll through phubbing will provide even further clues on the complicated
nature of phubbing.
While participants in our study stated that using smartphones to communicate with
their family and being able to reach others instantly were among smartphones’ positive
aspects, Özaşçılar (2012) found the opposite; namely, that participants felt annoyed
when they were in constant communication with their family and when they felt that
they were constantly required to inform their family about their current whereabouts.
Participants also stated that smartphones could be used to alleviate loneliness,
remorse, and boredom, indicating that they attached great deal of importance to
their smartphone and considered it to be more than a mere communicate device. As
such, smartphones provide a means to meet a number of emotional needs, a nding
supported by Humphreys (2003) in his study in which he found that participants
used smartphones to alleviate their feelings of loneliness. Since smartphones were
also found to be used to access social media networks, to post information on them,
to gain acceptance, and to increase one’s sense of self-condence, participants
perceived smartphones to be a fundamental need in life. As such, it can be claimed
that smartphones provide an easily accessible venue for individuals to socialize,
interact, pass time, and meet their emotional needs without needing to enter into
a physical social environment. These ndings are in line with the philosophical
concept of entropy. Under normal conditions, one must allot a separate and specic
Karadağ, Tosuntaş, Erzen, Duru, Bostan, Mızrak Şahin , Çulha, Babadağ / The Virtual World’s Current Addiction: Phubbing
263
amount of energy for prestige, money, entertainment, socialization, and to interact
with others whereas performing all of these activities in a single venue, even if it be
a virtual environment, while exerting a considerably less amount of energy is only
natural for an organism. However, it must not be forgotten that considering phubbing
to be nothing more than an instance of entropy and perceiving it as a normal behavior
will result in a false understanding of its true nature. For although it may be natural
for one to attempt to achieve maximum output while expending minimum resources,
due to this output being realized on a virtual environment while also causing one to
neglect his or her real-life responsibilities, it is necessary to consider this behavior as
a disorder.
Participants stated that they not only experienced feelings of tension, unease,
anxiousness, unhappiness, disappointment, worry, and depression at times when
they were unable to use their smartphone, but also feelings of expectation, hope,
and curiosity. In previous studies, students expressed that they felt not only high
levels of worry and discomfort, but also as if a part of them were missing when they
had forgotten their smartphone at home (Ling, 2005). These feelings indicate that
participants use mobiles phones as their primary means of communicate with others
and that when they are unable to use it to communicate with others, their psychological
state is negatively affected, causing them to feel as if something were missing. The
emotions and feelings felt when one is unable to use his or her smartphone can be
explained by the fact that individuals value the ability to contact their friends and
family members. One of the more poignant ndings is that participants considered
their signicant other to be the most important individual from among their friends
and family, a nding that can be related to the meanings individuals attribute to their
smartphones.
While the participants of this study considered their smartphones to be an integral
and indispensable part of their life, they also described it similar to a part of their
body, such as their heart, eye, ear, hand, or foot. Similarly, Aydoğdu-Karaaslan and
Budak (2012) found that while a portion of students considered their smartphone as
an indispensable, integral device that they used to organize their life, other students
stated that their smartphone did not hold such an important place in their lives.
Providing further support to this nding is the fact that 90% of young individuals
stated that they were most afraid of losing their smartphone among all of their personal
belongings (Telecom News, 2008) and that 26% of American smartphone users
stated that they could not live without their smartphone (Brown, 2013). The ndings
of this and previous studies provide further support to the notion that phubbing is an
addictive behavior. When participants’ behaviors and statements are considered in
light of the DSM-IV Criteria for Substance Dependence and Abuse, further evidence
supporting the addictive nature of such behaviors is found. According to the DSM-
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264
IV (1995) classications, among the criteria dening substance dependence are (1)
tolerance being built against a substance as dened by a need for increased amounts
of the substance to achieve desired effects and the diminished effect with continued
use of the same amount of the substance, (2) withdrawal syndrome in which the
substance is taken to relieve withdrawal symptoms, (3) using the substance in larger
amounts, (4) unsuccessful efforts to cut down or control substance use, (5) important
social, occupational, or recreational activities are given up or reduced because of
substance abuse, (6) substance use is continued despite knowledge of having a
persistent physical or psychological problem that is likely to have been caused or
exacerbated by the substance. When participants’ statements and data related to their
habits of using smartphones are taken into consideration, the above listed criteria are
observed at varying levels in phubbing behaviors. In other words, phubbing may lead
to a number of potentially serious psychopathological consequences. With this being
said however, it cannot be said that all effects of phubbing are necessarily negative.
In this work, participants’ statements indicate that smartphone use produces both
positive and negative effects in their interpersonal relations. By participants’ own
admission, the most serious of all the negative effects cited is addiction. A number of
studies have revealed that while there are many smartphone users’ who believe that
smartphones have had a positive effect on daily life by allowing people the ability to
contact others quickly and easily, there are others who consider constant messaging,
as opposed to face-to-face communication, to be among the negative effects of
smartphones. Such a modus vivendi warps technology’s intended goal of freeing
people, working instead to turn people into technology addicts (Aydoğdu-Karaaslan
& Budak, 2012).
When participants were themselves subject to phubbing behaviors, although they
stated that they were able to feel empathy for those whom they have phubbed, they
also stated that they responded to such behaviors in a reactionary manner. Wei and
Leung (1999) found that most individuals considered using a smartphone in a social
context as an irritating, rude, disrespectful, annoying, and inappropriate behavior.
With this being said however, although individuals described phubbing as annoying,
they not only continued to exhibit such behaviors, but also responded in a reactionary
manner when subject to phubbing. These results indicate a number of possibilities,
one being that individuals’ emotional intelligence and ability to empathize with
others is weak. A second possibility is that these individuals are simply unable to
regulate their behaviors due to their addiction without there being any problem in
their emotional intelligence or empathy skills. Of course, this result indicates that
individuals’ self-regulation is weak. All of these possibilities may be considered
potential future research topics.
Karadağ, Tosuntaş, Erzen, Duru, Bostan, Mızrak Şahin , Çulha, Babadağ / The Virtual World’s Current Addiction: Phubbing
265
In regards to the data obtained on individuals exhibiting phubbing behaviors, it has
been observed that not only do such individuals exhibit a deciency in their ability to
communicate with others, they also have difculty establishing and maintaining eye
contact while using a smartphone and often misunderstand what is being discussed.
Some individuals were even found to be completely disconnected to the entire
discussion and the environment in which it is being held. As such, just as individuals’
excessive propensity toward smartphones results in complete disengagement from
social environments, so does it severely harm interpersonal relations.
In conclusion, in spite of individuals’ awareness of phubbing’s negative effects,
they continue to exhibit phubbing behaviors in real-life social environments. Having
all the same features and abilities as traditional computers, smartphones carry the
same potential addictions as computers. Yet, instead of being restricted to a table,
these addictions are now able to manifest in every aspect, environment, and moment
of one’s life. As such, since phubbing carries with it a type of addiction that is much
more devious and pervasion than most previous virtual reality related addictions,
measures must be taken before serious psychopathological and sociological problems
begin to manifest themselves throughout the population.
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Karadağ, Tosuntaş, Erzen, Duru, Bostan, Mızrak Şahin , Çulha, Babadağ / The Virtual World’s Current Addiction: Phubbing
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... A literature review showed that no previous research has investigated whether some, none, or all of the dimensions that lead to phubbing among students and their colleagues would also apply to phubbing among married couples. Additionally, few studies have reviewed the causes of phubbing in terms of several digital problematic uses [7][8][9], and few studies have examined the effect of phubbing on relationship satisfaction [10][11][12][13][14][15]. These studies have investigated the phenomenon from the perspective of one partner and neglected the other. ...
... The partner was asked to complete the following scales by Karadağ et al. [8]: the mobile phone addiction scale (e.g., "I check over the screen of my mobile phone on all occasions". For this scale, the items were loaded onto 3 factors: deprivation (7 items, α = 0:86), control difficulties (3 items, α = 0:78), and application (5 items, α = 0:85). ...
... Measures of internal validity were provided by Karadağ et al. [8] and Murray et al. [52]. In order to test that the same measures were in line with the original versions, Cronbach's α was calculated for each of the factors in the scales. ...
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This study is the first to explain the determinant factors of phubbing—checking cell phone during a conversation or while spending time with a significant other—and its effect on the relationship satisfaction of both partners. It is also aimed at determining whether gender and relationship length play moderating roles in a relationship. The study adopted the media displacement theory and the interdependence theory to build a conceptual model of these variables. This cross-sectional research was conducted using an online survey with 741 voluntary married participants from Saudi Arabia. Upon analysis, the data confirmed that problematic usage of cell phone, Internet, social media, games, and SMS had a positive effect on phubbing. Interestingly, it showed that both the sample’s and their partner’s relationship satisfaction increased in line with phubbing behavior. Several theoretical and practical contributions have resulted from these findings.
... Also, previous findingss explained that individuals addicted to social media and smartphones use their phones as a tool that helps them in situations of loneliness, anxiety and stress; which may predict phubbing (Karadaǧ et al., 2015). Actually, phubbing aggravates phubbers' and phubees problems (Karadağ et al., 2016) (i.e. the absence of communication might have a negative impact on relationships and mental health (Roberts & David, 2016)). ...
... Phubbing also, presents indirect effect on depressive symptoms by decreasing life satisfaction (Roberts & David, 2016). Moreover, phubbing may increase the sense of social exclusion expressed by the ignorance of the person speaking by using a mobile phone (Karadağ et al., 2016), which in turn increases depressive symptoms (Li et al., 2021). Biologically speaking, the electromagnetic waves from smartphones lead to slow production of melatonin and therefore, the continuous checking and excessive phone use can lead to sleep disturbances associated with increased severity of depressive symptoms (Wood et al., 2006;Zarghami et al., 2015). ...
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Background: Mobile phones use has not been without several social and psychological problems, specifically during the fast spread of the COVID-19 infection, which imposed strict restrictions and isolation. This research principal aims were to (1) confirm the validity of the Generic Scale of Phubbing in Arabic (GSP), and (2) evaluate the association between phubbing and mental health (depression, anxiety and stress). Methods: A first cross-sectional study enrolled 203 participants to confirm the factor structure of the phubbing scale among Lebanese young adults. A confirmatory factor analysis (CFA) was carried out on the whole sample using SPSS AMOS v.24 to confirm the four-factor structure of the GSP. The root mean square error of approximation (RMSEA) statistic, the comparative fit index (CFI) and the Tucker Lewis Index (TLI) were used to evaluate the goodness-of-fit of the model. RMSEA values ≤0.08 and ≤0.10 indicate a good and acceptable fit respectively. CFI and TLI values ≥0.90 indicate good model fit. A second cross-sectional study enrolled 461 respondents (18-29 years old) to conduct the multivariable analysis. Results: The fit indices values were as follows: χ2/df=181.74/84=2.16, TLI=.92, CFI=.94 and RMSEA= .076 [95% CI .061-.091] respectively, indicating an excellent fit of the model. The results of the multiple linear regression using the ENTER model, when taking the phubbing score as the dependent variable, showed that female gender (β=0.11; t(454)=2.50; p=.013), more stress (β=0.27; t(454)=3.94; p<.001), more anxiety (β=0.30; t(454)=4.24; p<.001), and older age (β=0.28; t(454)=6.12; p<.001) were positively correlated with higher phubbing, or higher household crowding index (β=-0.15; t(454)=-3.62; p<.001) was significantly correlated with less phubbing. Conclusion: The results of this study were able to confirm the validity of the Arabic version of the GSP scale. This will allow Lebanese clinicians to use this validated tool to screen for the presence of the phubbing phenomenon within this age group. We propose finding possible correlation between phubbing and others factors (such as obsession and loneliness) and validating this scale in other Arabic-speaking countries.
... A common phenomenon that attracts attention from researchers is the use of mobile phones for an activity known as "phubbing". Composed of "phone" and "snubbing, " the word "phubbing" has now been included in the latest version of the Macquarie Dictionary (Karadağ et al., 2016). This word is relatively new, referring to the behavior of engaging with a phone while ignoring others during interaction (Angeluci, 2016). ...
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Objective To reveal the relationship between parental phubbing, basic psychological needs satisfaction, self-esteem, and depression and to explore the impact of parental phubbing on depression. Methods A total of 819 junior high school students responded to the parental phubbing scale, basic psychological needs satisfaction scale, self-esteem scale, and depression scale in combination. Results (1) Parental phubbing was significantly correlated with satisfaction of basic psychological needs, self-esteem, and depression. (2) Parental phubbing can not only be used to directly predict depression in junior middle school students but also has an indirect impact on depression through three pathways: a separate mediating effect on basic psychological needs satisfaction, a separate mediating effect on self-esteem and a chain mediating effect on both. Conclusion Parental phubbing is a risk factor for depression, which can negatively affect the mental health of junior high school students.
... Phubbing should not be considered a simple problem; instead, it is a novel and dangerous form of technology addiction that affects the psychological and social domains of human beings. 8 Many classes are now conducted fully or partially online due to the spread of COVID-19, and this transition to online classes has given students more opportunities to use smartphones in class instead of focusing on the class. As a result, cases of classroom phubbing (i.e., students' use of smartphones during lectures) have been frequently reported. ...
Article
Objective: This study investigated phubbing (the act of ignoring one's companion or companions to pay attention to one's smartphone) and examined the factors affecting phubbing among nursing students in South Korea. Methods: A cross-sectional survey design was adopted, and a self-reported questionnaire was used. Data were collected from 200 nursing students in two cities. Self-administered questionnaires included demographic data, smartphone addiction, media multitasking motivation, interpersonal competency, and phubbing. Results: Phubbing was positively correlated with smartphone addiction (r=0.41, p<0.001) and media multitasking motivation (r=0.16, p<0.05), and negatively correlated with interpersonal competence (r=-0.51, p<0.001). Factors influencing nursing students' phubbing were interpersonal competency (β=-0.59, p<0.001), media multitasking motivation (β=0.24, p<0.001), smartphone addiction (β=0.19, p<0.01) and interpersonal relationships (β=0.14, p<0.05). The model including these variables accounted for 43% of variance in phubbing. Conclusion: Nursing students showed a moderate level of phubbing, and interpersonal competency was an important factor for reducing their phubbing of nursing students. Since phubbing occurs frequently among nursing students, educators in nursing are required to develop and implement active interventional measures to help nursing students avoid phubbing and improve their interpersonal relationships by increasing their empathic ability and communication skills.
... Each question is rated on a five-point Likert scale ranging from never (1) to always (5), generating a composite score ranging from 10 to 50, the higher the composite score, the more severe the student' s phubbing behavior. Scores exceeding 45 indicate a higher likelihood of phubbing (Karadağ et al., 2016). ...
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Pathological phubbing behavior has become an increasingly prevalent issue in recent years yet research surrounding these technological concerns remains scarce. The current study seeks to contribute to this limited body of research by providing insight into the antecedents of excessive and severe phubbing behavior and potential risk factors of pathological technology use as a whole. 938 undergraduate students participated in a cross-sectional study to determine whether demographic variables, personality traits, and degrees of social media addiction and fear of missing out could explain phubbing behavior. Participants responded to a survey that included the Bergen Social Media Addiction Scale (BSMAS), Fear of Missing Out Scale (FoMO), Ten-Item Personality Inventory (TIPI), and Phubbing Scale (Phubbing). Bivariate correlations identified that BSMAS and FoMO were significantly positively correlated with phubbing while TIPI displayed a significantly negative correlation with phubbing. Further, hierarchical multiple regression analyses established that BSMAS holds the most predictive power for phubbing while FoMO displayed a significantly less robust predictive power. TIPI was shown to be significant but served less to explain the variance in phubbing behaviors.
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Phubbing among undergraduate has become an area of increasing research interest in recent years. In recent years, studies on phubbing have increased. However, no empirical study has deal with the mediating effect of fear of missing out (FoMO) on the relationship between dark triad and phubbing. The dark triad refers to three personality traits: Machiavellianism, psychopathy, and narcissism. Machiavellianism is characterized by prioritizing one’s own wishes and desires. Psychopathy, is a personality trait where lack of emotion and self-control is seen. Narcissism is characterized by low empathy and egocentrism. Thus, the purpose of this study was to examine whether FoMO mediator between dark triad and phubbing among undergraduates. For this purpose, structural equation modeling and bootstrapping method was used. Mediation analyses were performed using AMOS 22.00. The present study comprised 506 undergraduate (%70.7 female; %29.3 male). The age of the participants ranged between 18 and 29 (x = 22.41).The measures used included the General Scale of Phubbing, Fear of Missing Out Scale, and Dirty Dozen Scale. The results showed that FoMO mediated the relationship between dark triad and phubbing. The results of bootstrapping procedure indicated that the indirect effect of FoMO on the relationship between dark triad and phubbing was significant. In conclusion, the study suggests that FoMO is a meaningful mediator in the relationship between dark triad and phubbing. Research results are discussed in the light of the related literature and suggestions are presented for future researchers.
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