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Preoccupation with our cellphones has irrevocably changed how we interact with others. Despite many advantages of smartphones, they may undermine both our in-person relationships and our well-being. As the first to investigate the impact of phubbing (phone-snubbing), the present research contributes to our nascent understanding of the role of smartphones in consumer behavior and well-being. We demonstrate the harmful effects of phubbing, revealing that phubbed individuals experience a sense of social exclusion, which leads to a heightened need for attention and results in individuals attaching to social media in hopes of regaining a sense of inclusion. Although the stated purpose of technology like smartphones is to help us connect with others, in this particular instance, it does not. Ironically, the very technology that was designed to bring humans closer together has isolated us from these very same people.
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Phubbed and Alone: Phone Snubbing, Social Exclusion,
and Attachment to Social Media
ABSTRACT Preoccupation with our cellphones has irrevocably changed how we interact with others. Despite many
advantages of smartphones, they may undermine both our in-person relationships and our well-being. As the rst to
investigate the impact of phubbing (phone-snubbing), the present research contributes to our nascent understanding
of the role of smartphones in consumer behavior and well-being. We demonstrate the harmful effects of phubbing,
revealing that phubbed individuals experience a sense of social exclusion, which leads to a heightened need for atten-
tion and results in individuals attaching to social media in hopes of regaining a sense of inclusion. Although the stated
purpose of technology like smartphones is to help us connect with others, in this particular instance, it does not. Ironically,
the very technology that was designed to bring humans closer together has isolated us from these very same people.
Americans are obsessed with their smartphones:
68% of Americans sleep with their smartphone
next to their bed, and 79% reach for their phone
within 15 minutes after waking up (IDC/Facebook 2013).
For many of us, our smartphone is the last thing we see be-
fore going to bed at night. The activities we perform for the
approximately 15 hours we are awake are inextricably in-
tertwined with our smartphone use: 79% of Americans keep
their smartphones nearby for all but 2 hours of the day
(IDC/Facebook 2013), checking it on average 221 times
per day (Tecmark 2014); 25% of Americans cannot recall a
time of the day that their smartphone was not within their
reach. Two-thirds check their phone even when it is not vi-
brating or ringing (Pew Internet 2014), and 70%80% of
drivers use their smartphone while they are driving (Pin-
slavish obedience to our phones.
A recent survey of college students found that females
spent an average of 10 hours every day on their phones,
while males spent an average of 8 hours each day on their
smartphones (Roberts, Ya-Ya, and Manolis 2014). The de-
sire to be connected is very strong in young people. This is
so much so that a large survey found that 53% of millennials
(those born between 1982 and 2004) would rather give up
their sense of smell than lose a device connection (https://
-About-Youth). The present race to perpetual connection,
however, is not simply an avocation of the young. A recent
study by A. C. Nielsen found that US adults spend an aver-
age of 4.7 hours per day on their smartphones (Harper
Our preoccupation with technology, smartphones in par-
ticular, has irrevocably changed how we interact with
others. Despite the many advantages afforded by the porta-
bility and multifunctionality of the modern smartphone,
our current obsession with smartphones comes at a cost to
our real, in-person relationships. Several researchers (Mick
and Fournier 1998; Lang and Jarvenpaa 2005; Turkle 2011)
have observed that the near-universal availability and ever-
expanding capabilities of the smartphone have led to two
paradoxes: (1) the present-absent paradox (alone together)
and the (2) freeing-enslaving paradox. Both of these paradoxes
address how we communicate and relate with others. In the
present-absent paradox, we are physically present for others
but are really absent, preoccupied with our smartphones. In
the freeing-enslaving paradox, smartphones allow us the free-
dom to communicate with others, be entertained, work from
remote locations, and access information in ways undreamed
of a mere 20 years ago. This freedom, however, comes at a
cost. Being always on and constantly available brings with
it a sense of responsibility, or even obligation, to respond
in a timely fashion to our technology. We live in a world of
constant distraction. The present research investigates how
such distraction caused by our smartphones can negatively
affect others. Specically, our study focuses on phone snub-
bingand its impact on consumers.
Meredith E. David ( is an assistant professor of marketing at Hankamer School of Business, Baylor University. James A. Roberts
( is the Ben H. Williams Professor of Marketing at Hankamer School of Business, Baylor University.
JACR, volume 2, number 2. Published online March 17, 2017.
©2017 the Association for Consumer Research. All rights reserved. 2378-1815/2017/0202-0004$10.00
Portmanteau is a word whose form and meaning are the
result of combining two or more distinct words. Phubbing is
a portmanteau of the words phoneand snubbing.To be
phubbed is to be snubbed by someone using their cellphone
when in your company(Roberts and David 2016, 134).
The phubbcould take the form of an interrupted conver-
sation with someone when s/he attends to their smart-
phone or when s/he is in close proximity to you but uses
her/his smartphone instead of communicating with you.
It could be the furtive glances at her/his smartphone when
talking with you, interrupting your conversation to take a
call, respond to a text, or make a post, or simply ignoring
your existence when you are together. The omnipresent na-
ture of smartphones makes phubbing an inevitable occur-
rence. Consider restaurant dining, for example; it is more
often than not that one person at each table is distracted
by her/his phone rather than spending quality time engag-
ing with her/his dinner partner.
Only a few studies to date have addressed phubbing-like
behavior, and most of these focus specically on romantic
relationships and show that phubbing-like behaviors un-
dermine the perceived quality of romantic relationships
(Coyne et al. 2011; Lenhart and Duggan 2014; McDaniel
and Coyne 2014; Roberts and David 2016). McDaniel and
Coyne (2014) found that 70% of females felt that smart-
phones interfered in their romantic relationships. Roberts
and David (2016) found that partner phubbing was a com-
mon occurrence in romantic relationships and that it created
cellphone-related conict and undermined relationship sat-
isfaction. Despite our familiarity with and heavy use of smart-
phones, we still are not immune from social slights at the
hands of our equally smartphone-obsessed partners. First,
and foremost, humans are social beings. When our inclusion
in a particular situation is threatened by such exclusionary
behavior as phubbing, we immediately take steps to reestab-
lish our inclusionary status (Kuss and Grifths 2011; Mead
et al. 2011). Our current research examines the impact of
phubbing on individualsfeelings of social exclusion and need
for attention, as well as how individuals seek to regain a
sense of inclusion threatened by phubbing. Our study con-
tributes to an understanding how a common smartphone
behavior, which we call phubbing,affects otherssense of
social exclusion and how possible attempts to regain a sense
of inclusionmay lead individuals to increasingly rely on social
media to do so. Importantly, this research is the rst to ex-
amine the effects of general (rather than romantic relation-
ship specic) phubbing.
The following scenario is now so commonplace that it is
part of the social fabric. You are talking to a friend, a col-
league, or a complete stranger, and you catch her/him glanc-
ing at her/his phone, or s/he answers a call, sends a text, or
checks her/his social media feed during your conversation.
Or s/he very well may snub you altogether by remaining on
the phone when in close proximity to you. You have been
phubbed (phone-snubbed). The question remains, how does
such treatment affect you? This question is at the heart of
the present research. Specically, our study investigates the
impact of phubbing on our sense of social exclusion and
how this threat of exclusion increases our need to belong.
In addition, we investigate whether this heightened need
to belong may turn individuals to social media in an attempt
to generate a sense of inclusion threatened by phubbing.
Further, we examine the impact of phubbing on the affected
individuals well-being.
Our research contributes to the extant literature by
identifying and testing one path through which individuals
become attached, if not addicted, to social media. It may
not be out of boredom or a desire to be entertained that
so many people spend so much time on Facebook or other
social media; instead, it may be that the time spent on so-
cial media is a pointed attempt to (re)gain community in a
world that, paradoxically, is becoming increasingly alien-
ated (Putnam 2000). In one of the few studies that has as-
sessed a type of phubbing behavior, checking your phone dur-
ing a conversation with another, Finkel and Kruger (2012)
observed dyads dining together and discovered that individ-
uals were more likely to take out their phone if their conver-
sation partner did so. Results indicated that individuals were
more likely to use their phone if their partner had done so in
the preceding 10-second time period. The same pairs were
not likely to use their cellphones simultaneously in the same
time period. It appeared that cellphone use was contagious.
The authors concluded that these results can be best ex-
plained by social exclusion and inclusion, such that when
one person of the dyad used a phone, the other felt excluded
and subsequently used a phone to restore his/her sense of in-
clusion. The present research provides an empirical examina-
tion of the impact of phubbing on individualsfeelings of ex-
clusion during in-person interactions, and it tests whether
phubbed individuals turn to social media (via their phone)
in an effort to gain attention and a sense of belonging.
Our research is the rst to tie a specic use of smart-
phones (phubbing) to the well-being of others. Can turning
156 Phubbed and Alone David and Roberts
to social media ll the void left by a sense of social exclusion
caused by phubbing? We investigate the relationships be-
tween phubbing, social media attachment, and personal
well-being. We posit that, even for twenty-rst-century hu-
man beings, phubbing will lead to behaviors designed to re-
gain balance to ones sense of inclusion. Being a part of so-
cial groups is an innate desire of humans (Baumeister and
Tice 1990; Mead et al. 2011; Lee and Shrum 2012), and
such a desire will lead phubbedindividuals to search else-
where for a sense of belonging (Han, Min, and Lee 2015). In
an increasingly technology-driven society, it is critical that in-
vestigation continue into how the use of such technology is
affecting how we relate to one another. Indeed, and consis-
tent with the present-absent paradox discussed above, it
may be that attachment to social media and connectedness
with our phones is slowly deteriorating real in-person con-
Phubbing, Social Exclusion, and the Need for Attention
Being phubbed may engender social exclusion, which is best
understood as being snubbed or ignored (mild forms of so-
cial rejection), excluded, or ostracized by other individuals.
Social exclusion can be very painful, and it is likely a daily
occurrence (Wan, Xu, and Ding 2014). Our need to belong
is an innate part of our human programming (Baumeister
and Tice 1990; Leary 1990; Mead et al. 2011). The desire
for social relationships is our most fundamental and uni-
versal need as human beings (Lee and Shrum 2012). This
is so much so that Baumeister and Tice (1990) place our
need for social inclusion in the same group of primal fears
as our inner fears of snakes, heights, and the dark. Social
inclusion is important from an evolutionary perspective be-
cause it has improved our chances for survival (safety) and re-
production (Twenge, Cantanese, and Baumeister 2002; Mead
et al. 2011).
It appears that our innate fear of being excluded still ex-
ists today. When we are threatened with social exclusion,
certain regions of the brain that are designed to detect
and regulate pain are activated, our ability to self-regulate
is compromised, our ability to reason is diminished, and
our perception of time is distorted (Twenge et al. 2002;
Mead et al. 2011). Upon social exclusion, our desire to re-
balance a sense of inclusion is immediately activated. Our
primary objective is to stop the pain caused by exclusion.
In an effort to replace the sense of inclusion threatened
by being phubbed during in-person interactions, individu-
als may turn to their phones and engage with individuals
via social media. However, and as previously discussed, ones
ability to regain inclusion is compromised by impaired self-
control, poor reasoning, and time distortion, and thus it is
likely that individuals may well become overly attached to
social media.
Given the nature of phubbing, it is helpful here to con-
sider Molden et al.s (2009) two distinct experiences of so-
cial exclusion. The rst experience is being rejected, and the
other is being ignored. Being rejected is more direct and ex-
plicit, whereas being ignored is more subtle (implicit and
indirect; Lee and Shrum 2012). Being phubbed is more
likely an experience of being ignored. Often phubbing entails
someone attending to her/his smartphone instead of commu-
nicating with the phubbed individual. More active phub-
bing involves interrupting a conversation to attend to ones
smartphone. Even this more aggressive form of phubbing
is a more implicit and indirect snub than an outright rejec-
tion. According to Lee and Shrum (2012), when people are
ignored, their efcacy needs for power and control, as well
as their sense of having a meaningful existence, are threat-
ened. When an individual is ignored, that individual loses
the power to attract attention from those around her/
him. Being ignored is a one-sided proposition, and control
is wrested from the phubbed individual unless attention
can be regained. Being ignored is being treated as if the ig-
nored individual does not exist or is invisible (Lee and
Shrum 2012). When a person is ignored, s/he will attempt
to regain the felt loss of power and control and reinforce
that s/he is a person of value.
A common way to attempt to restore a desired inclu-
sionary status is to gain attention from others (Lee and
Shrum 2012). Thus, the feelings of being socially excluded
that arise from being phubbed should lead to an enhanced
need for attention. Hills (1987) early research identied a
desire for attention as one of four primary afliation moti-
vations. As humans, we have an innate desire to belong, to
receive attention, and to feel appreciated. The social awards
of attention and praise are particularly relevant to our de-
sire for social connection. Thus, it is posited that phubbing
creates a sense of social exclusion that increases an individ-
uals need for attention or to belong. People are continually
monitoring their levels of inclusion and will divert their at-
tention resources to opportunities to connect with others
when their sense of inclusion drops below an acceptable
level (Mead et al. 2011). Therefore, and as discussed next,
it is likely that in an effort to restore a desired level of be-
longing, phubbed individuals may turn to their phones and
Volume 2 Number 2 2017 157
actively engage with social media to regain the sense of social
inclusion threatened by others phubbing. Based on decades
of research that has shown that humans suffer both physi-
cally and psychologically when they lack a sense of belong-
ing (Mead et al. 2011), we posit that phubbed individuals,
who suffer from impaired judgment from feeling excluded,
may lose track of time while attempting to connect with
others on social media and may well become addicted to
their phones.
Phubbing, Social Exclusion, Need for Attention,
and Social Media Intensity
It is easy to understand how we may feel excluded when we
are phubbed by others, be it by romantic partners, friends,
colleagues, acquaintances, and so forth. But, after being
phubbed while spending time with others, how do we regain
a sense of belonging? Leary (1990) provides a good argument
that could help explain why people may turn to social media,
rather than engage in additional in-person interactions, to
get attention and gain a sense of belonging. People, argues
Leary (1990), may evaluate their current inclusionary status,
not by examining their inclusionary status with people or
groups they are currently in contact with but by assessing
their potential for inclusion/exclusion in various situations.
Individuals appear to ask themselves if they would be included
in a given situation with an individual or group. For exam-
ple, an individual who is often phubbed by those s/he spends
time with may well think that additional time spent in per-
son with others may have a similar outcome (i.e., feelings
of exclusion). Thus, it is likely that phubbing not only leads
to feelings of social exclusion and an enhanced need for
attention but may well also lead to individuals intensely
engaging in social media and becoming attached to their
Two theories are helpful in understanding the proposed
link between phubbed individualsneed for attention and
social media intensity: Uses and Gratications Theory (Katz,
Blumler, and Gurevitch 1973; Chen 2011; Han et al. 2015)
and Optimal Flow Theory (Salehan and Negahban 2013). Uses
and Gratications Theory is a straightforward proposition ar-
guing that people use media that is gratifying and that satis-
es particular needs. For example, after being phubbed, peo-
ple feel excluded and desire attention in an attempt to feel
included. This need for attention nds an outlet on social
media. Relatedly, Optimal Flow Theory argues that, for some
people, the experience with Information Communication
Technology (ICT), such as social media, can be so enjoyable
that users grow a very intense relationship with social media
sites, including Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and others.
Research has found that a Facebook Like,posting a photo
or comment, or the familiar ring of a notication releases do-
pamine similar to the rush we might get from an in-person
hug or smile (Soat 2015). The affected individuals need for
attention brought on by a sense of social exclusion is so
strong that s/he becomes highly attached, if not addicted,
to social networking sites (SNS) like Facebook (Kuss and
Grifths 2011; Andreassen et al. 2012).
In sum, social exclusion threatens our need to belong
and leads us to be more sensitive to social cues in hopes
of regaining inclusion. Socially excluded people gravitate
to social media because they are more interested in bonding
with others and discovering and maintaining new places to
nurture relationships than their more socially included
counterparts (Wan et al. 2014). Similarly, feelings of social
exclusion during time spent in person with others leads
people to invest time and energy in social media in hopes
of regaining a sense of inclusion. Thus, it is likely that indi-
viduals who are phubbed turn to social media (rather than
to another other in-person connection, in which they would
also likely be phubbed) in hopes of receiving attention and
fullling the basic human need for belonging.
Overall, then, it is predicted that phubbing has an indi-
rect effect on social media intensity. Specically, phubbing
leads to individuals feeling excludedin person,and these feel-
ings of being excluded in person lead to individuals intensely
engaging with social media in hopes of receiving attention
and gaininga sense of belonging. We predict a sequential me-
diation model in which phubbing leads to exclusion, which
stimulates a need for attention and results in individuals
turning to social media to connect with others. Next, we pre-
sent a study that tests these predictions. Through our pre-
dicted serial mediation model, we also examine whether
phubbing ultimately has a negative impact on consumer
Sample, Procedure, and Measures
One hundred and eighty US adults (41% male) from Ama-
zon Mechanical Turk participated in the study. Participants
were told that the purpose of the study was to understand
how individuals feel about their interactions and time spent
with other people. Participants were randomly assigned to
either a phubbing condition or a control condition. Partici-
pants in the phubbing condition were told that before they
began the main study, we wanted to share a news clipping
with them related to how people often snub individuals that
158 Phubbed and Alone David and Roberts
they are around by using their cellphone instead of paying
attention to the person they are with. The news clip used
as the phubbing prime was selected based on the results
of a pretest (n569 US adults), which showed that the
phubbing prime activated specic thoughts regarding the
extent to which people that they spend time with in person
are distracted by their smartphones. (See appendix A for
the actual prime; appendices A and B are available online.)
Participants in the phubbing condition were shown the
prime for 30 seconds, at which time they were asked to con-
sider how the behaviors described in the clip are related to
those that they may experience while spending time with
other people. Participants in the control condition did not
see the prime. Next, we assessed all participantsmoods in
order to test the possibility that the phubbing prime could
affect individualsmoods. Specically, participants indicated
how they currently felt using two 9-point bipolar items an-
chored with in a bad moodin a good moodand not happy
at allvery happy.
Next, the main study began, in which feelings of social
exclusion during time spent with others (a5.95) were as-
sessed by asking participants to indicate the extent to
which (on a 5-point scale ranging from not at allto very
much), when spending time with other people, they expe-
rience feelings of being ignored, left out, and rejected (Wil-
liams, Cheung, and Choi 2000). The Hill (1987) 6-item mea-
sure of need for interpersonal attention (a5.96) was used
to assess participantsneed for attention (Leary et al. 2013).
Intensity of social media use (a5.96) was assessed using
6 items adapted from the Ellison, Steineld, and Lampe
(2007) measure of Facebook intensity. Example items in-
clude Social media is part of my everyday activity,”“I feel
out of touch when I havent logged onto any social media
sites for a while,and Social media sites have become part
of my daily routine.Participantswell-being (a5.93) was
assessed using the 4-item measure (PHQ-4) of depression
and stress developed by Kroenke and colleagues (2009)
and used in related work by Roberts and David (2016).
The order of the measures was rotated, and each measure
was separated by a short ller task. At the end of the study,
participants responded to demographic items as well as a
manipulation check item. Consistent with the pretest re-
sults, the ndings show that the phubbing prime worked
as expected and did not have an impact on mood; speci-
cally, participants in the phubbing (vs. control) condition
were signicantly more likely (on a 5-point scale) to indicate
that the beginning of the study made them think about how
other people snub them by being distracted by their
cellphones during their time spent together (M
51.84, t(180) 56.95, p<.01).
Results and Discussion
Although phubbing was primed, the measures used in this
study were obtained from the same source. Thus, we per-
formed the Lindell and Whitney (2001) marker variable
procedure to assess whether common method bias was likely
to affect the results. The correlation between the marker var-
iable item and each study measure was small and nonsignif-
icant; thus, it is unlikely that common method bias affected
the results (Lindell and Whitney 2001; Jayachandran et al.
2005). The means, standard deviations, and correlations
for the marker variable and study measures are reported
in table 1.
Preacher and Hayess (2008) Model 6 was used to test
the sequential mediation predictions regarding the indirect
effect that phubbing has on individualstendencies to be-
come intensely attached to social media. The results (F(1,
178) 521.22, p<.01, R
5.11) indicate that phubbing
has a signicant effect on individualstendencies to feel ex-
cluded during their time spent in person with others (b5
Table 1. Means, Standard Deviations, and Correlations of Study Measures
of Exclusion
Need for
Social Media
Marker variable 3.84 .83
Feelings of exclusion 2.16 .95 2.13 .90
Need for attention 2.32 .93 .05 .19* .92
Social media intensity 4.26 1.34 2.06 .14 .28* .93
Note.Based on the results of a study of 180 US adults. Reliability coefcients are shown on the diagonal.
Volume 2 Number 2 2017 159
.62, p<.05). The results show that feelings of exclusion
have a signicant effect on need for attention (b5.21,
p<.01), although the direct effect of phubbing on need
for attention is nonsignicant (F(2, 177) 53.83, p<.01,
5.04). Next, the results show a signicant effect of need
for attention (b5.37, p<.05) on social media intensity,
but nonsignicant direct effects of phubbing and feelings
of exclusion (F(3, 176) 56.27, p<.01, R
5.10). Impor-
tantly, the results show support for sequential mediation
(b5.05; SE 5.03, 95% CI: .012, .127), such that phubbing
has a signicant indirect effect on social media intensity
via feelings of exclusion during time spent in person with
others and need for attention.
Of note, additional analyses were conducted to test a se-
rial mediation model in which the effects of phubbing do
not end at social media intensity but continue a step fur-
ther to have an impact on personal well-being (i.e., create
feelings of stress and depression; Kroenke et al. 2009). Spe-
cically, the PROCESS Model 6 (Preacher and Hayes 2008)
was used to examine whether phubbing has a signicant in-
direct effect on well-being. The results (F(4, 175) 53.94,
p<.01, R
5.08) show support for sequential mediation,
such that phubbing has a signicant indirect effect on well-
being via feelings of being ignored, need for attention, and
then social media intensity (b5.01; SE 5.006, 95% CI:
.001, .028). (Full details are provided in appendix B, avail-
able online.)
Overall, the study results provide support for the predic-
tions that being phubbed is associated with individuals feel-
ing excluded during their time spent with others and that
these feelings of exclusion create a need for attention from
others. These phubbedindividuals then turn to social me-
dia and intensely engage with their phones in hopes of
gaining a sense of belonging. Importantly, the results reveal
that the negative effects of phubbing do not end with an
intense attachment to social media but continue on to have
an impact on individualswell-being. Specically, the results
reveal that phubbing has an indirect effect on individuals
well-being, such that phubbing is ultimately associated with
greater feelings of stress and depression.
Previous research has documented the considerable amount
of time people spend interacting with their cellphones (Rob-
erts et al. 2014). Individuals from all age groups are spend-
ing an increasing amount of time interacting with their
cellphones and less and less time interacting with their fel-
low humans (Pew Internet 2014; Wall Street Journal 2015).
Although cellphones provide tremendous opportunities for
connectivity with others, recent research suggests that in-
creased connectivity with cellphones may occur at the det-
riment of human interaction (McDaniel and Coyne 2014;
Roberts and David 2016). The present research contributes
to the emerging literature on how extreme connectivity via
cellphones can undermine interpersonal encounters and in-
dividual well-being.
Our study is one of a few to investigate the increasingly
common behavior of phubbing and its impact on individu-
als. Our results indicate that being phone-snubbed results
in individuals feeling socially excluded in their in-person in-
teractions, which creates a need among these individuals
for attention from others and ultimately results in these in-
dividuals turning to their smartphones for social media
connection. In addition, the ndings show that individuals
who are phubbed also ultimately experience greater feelings
of depression and lower overall well-being. Given the con-
tinuous state of connection that is now available via tech-
nology, our research lls an important gap in the literature
by demonstrating how intense cellphone use, even while con-
sumers spend time with others, can negatively affect con-
sumer well-being.
Our research is the rst to draw a link between phubbing
and attachment to social media. Despite the growing use of
social media, little research has focused on why social media
has become so popular. Previous research has concluded
that the main purpose of social media is to connect socially
(Van Meter et al. 2015). The question remains, however,
why is there such a need to connect socially? Presently we
live in the most connected world to date. The current re-
search suggests a possible answer to this conundrum. De-
spite the availability of technology, whose stated purpose
is to help us connect, we may be less connected than ever.
In an ironic twist, the technology designed to bring us to-
gether has isolated us from the very people we wish to con-
nect with. Our study suggests that one such driver of our at-
tachment to social media is the phubbing we endure as a
result of individualsobsessions to connect via the technol-
ogy presently at the top of the digital heap, the smartphone.
An additional important contribution is that we offer a
model of the process by which phubbing may underline per-
sonal well-being among affected individuals. Specically,
being phubbed is associated with feelings of being socially
excluded, which in turn leads to an increased need for at-
tention. This need for attention nds a convenient outlet in
160 Phubbed and Alone David and Roberts
social media. A strong attachment to social media was found
to be associated with higher levels of depression, anxiety,
and stress. Importantly, the sequential mediation ndings
(Preacher and Hayes 2008) revealed that phubbinghas an in-
direct effect on personal well-being, such that phubbing not
only results in individuals feeling ignored and needing atten-
tion from others, but also leads to an intense attachment to
social media and lower sense of well-being. Previous research
discovered that mobile phone dependency is associated with
increased levels of stress, anxiety, and depression (Augner
and Hacker 2012; Lee et al. 2014). Our study is the rst to ex-
amine a possible process through which such manic use of
ones smartphone affects the well-being of others.
Implications for Consumers, Businesses,
and Public Policy Makers
Several consumer implications can be derived from the cur-
rent ndings. Individuals must be sensitive to how their
smartphone use affects others around them. As or results
suggest, phubbing can lead others to feel socially excluded
and to turn to social media for solace. A practical solution
to control phubbing is to set smartphone-free zones and
times where individuals should avoid checking their smart-
phones. A social contract between spouses, friends, family
members, or coworkers can prescribe guidelines for when
it is inappropriate to use ones smartphone. Another possi-
ble solution to curb hurtful smartphone use is to pit tech-
nology against itself. A plethora of smartphone apps are
available that can help individuals monitor and control
their smartphone use. Certain apps even allow a record of
ones smartphone use to be sent to an accountability part-
nera high-tech form of public shaming.
Our research also offers implications for businesses. The
workplace is no exception to the ubiquitous nature of smart-
phone use. Given the ndings herein that phubbing can re-
sult in individuals experiencing greater feelings of depres-
sion and stress, it is important for businesses to consider
ways in which to mitigate the possible negative effects of
workplace phubbing. For example, businesses may need to
require that employees complete sensitivity training in
which they learn how their behaviors, including the use of
a cellphone, may negatively affect those around them. Man-
agers and employees at all levels need to understand that
they should take care not to sacrice face-to-face interac-
tions in order to respond at a moments notice to communi-
cations from higher-level managers. Alternatively, busi-
nesses may need to more directly confront smartphone use
by establishing corporate policies specifying when smart-
phones are allowed or prohibited, as well as how they should
be used while in the presence of others. Strategies such as
these may help foster healthier workplace environments in
which employees do not phubb others and are not phubbed
The current research also offers implications for public
policy makers. With a 90% mobile penetration rate and
6.5 billion mobile connections worldwide, cellphones are
constantly beeping, vibrating, and whistling. They yearn
forconstant attention, even in public environments, and
our ndings highlight the importance of public policy reg-
ulators recognizing the extent to which individuals are us-
ing their cellphones in ways that may unintentionally harm
those around them. For example, there may exist a need for
laws and bans to be established surrounding public use of
smartphones. Indeed, such regulations already exist across
the United States (e.g., Longnecker 2014; Williams 2016).
Although the key motive underlying the emergence of such
regulations relates to safety concerns, our research suggests
that these laws may also help to foster well-being among af-
fected individuals.
Of note, our research provides some evidence to suggest
that age and gender may be used to segment and identify
individuals, workforces, and societies in which there may
be an increased need to consider strategies such as those
discussed above. First, the results indicate that younger in-
dividuals spend much more time on their phones than do
older individuals. Specically, in the study presented herein,
we asked participants to estimate how many minutes they
had spent on their phone during the past week. The results
show a negative correlation between age and phone use (r5
2.17, p<.05, n5177). Second, the results provide evi-
dence perhaps suggesting that males (vs. females) are more
likely to embrace in-person interactions. Specically, the
current study asked participants to indicate on a 5-point
scale how often they hang out with friends or neighbors
during an average week (response categories were never,
once a week,”“23 times a week,”“46 times a week,
daily). The results reveal that males tend to hang out in
person with others more than their female counterparts
52.73, M
52.29, p<.05). These ndings may
suggest that, among younger or female individuals, as well
as among workforces and societies that are largely made
up of younger or female individuals, there may be an in-
creased need to consider implementing the strategies out-
lined above.
Volume 2 Number 2 2017 161
Limitations and Future Research Directions
Although the present research serves as the rst to investi-
gate the impact of general phubbing on individuals, includ-
ing their attachment to social media and their personal
well-being, its results must be tempered by certain limita-
tions. First, the research provides an initial examination
of the proposed chain of effects from phubbing to feelings
of social exclusion, enhanced need for attention, and ulti-
mately social media attachment. Future research is needed
to further test the underlying processes; a moderation-of-
process method (Spencer, Zanna, and Fong 2005) would
be particularly useful here. Second, the research presented
herein is scenario based and would benet from additional
investigations that are behavior based and that focus on be-
havioral outcomes of phubbing, including actual use of so-
cial media. Relatedly, it would be interesting to examine
whether being phubbed may lead to individuals ultimately
phubbing others. In addition, the present research cannot
shed light on how individuals use social media as means
by which to get attention and regain a sense of belonging.
This may be a fruitful area for future research. It may also
be interesting to study phubbing among interpersonal dy-
ads. For example, it could be that phone distractions are
less harmful to individuals if both people are preoccupied
with their phones (Ahlstrom et al. 2012). Relatedly, future
research should examine phubbing from the perpetrators
(vs. victims) perspective. It is likely that individuals do
not realize the frequency with which they phubb those
around them, much less the harmful impact that this be-
havior may have.
All this research into phubbing would be for naught, or only
an interesting story, if it were not for the intriguing conjec-
ture, with initial empirical support, that this type of behav-
ior may drive othersuse of social media in an attempt to
regain inclusion, as well as negatively affect the well-being
of affected individuals. It is ironic that cellphones, originally
designed as a communication tool, may actually hinder rather
than foster interpersonal connectedness. The ndings pre-
sented herein may suggest a cyclical effect; many individuals
are obsessed with their smartphones and regularly phubb
others, which results in these affected individuals turning
to and likely also becoming attached to their smartphones,
all to the detriment of real in-person connections, which,
from an evolutionary perspective, are crucial for survival. In
summary, individualsuse of cellphones in the presence of
others may have harmful effects on the well-being of those
around them.
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Volume 2 Number 2 2017 163
... Універсальна доступність і постійно розширювані можливості смартфона призвели до появи певних парадоксів комунікацій наживо, зокрема парадоксу «присутності-відсутності» («поодинці разом») та парадоксу «звільнення-поневолення» (Lang, 2005;David, 2017 «Phubbing» -це термін, який поєднує слова «phone» (телефон) та «snubbing» (зневаження). Він описує поведінку, коли людина занурюється в свій мобільний телефон, ігноруючи оточуючих людей та занадто зосереджується на своєму телефоні. ...
... Ситуації, коли начальник використовує свій мобільний телефон або відволікається на нього в присутності підлеглих, називають фабінгом боса (з англ. boss phubbing, bPhubbing) (Roberts, 2017). У межах виконання робочих функцій можна виокремлювати ще й робочий фабінг, що буде виникати, коли колеги ігнорують один одного на користь власних смартфонів (наприклад, під час нарад чи робочих зборів). ...
Full-text available
Цифрові трансформації змінюють життя людей: з одного боку, це нові можливості для покращення різних сфер людської діяльності, а з іншого – це нові виклики, пов’язані із різними видами залежностей користувачів від цифрового середовища (Інтернету, смартфонів, соціальних мереж). Подібні залежності мають серйозний вплив не тільки на психологічний стан користувачів та їхні стосунки, але і спричиняють ризики для фізичного здоров’я. Відповідно актуальними стають дослідження причин недоречної поведінки, пов’язаної зі звичками постійно перебувати в цифровому просторі на противагу реальному життю. Одним із таких негативних викликів є феномен фабінгу, термін для позначення якого був придуманий 2012 році, та утворений від слів «phone» (телефон) та «snubbing» (зневажливе ставлення). Під фабінгом розуміють ситуації, коли під час спілкування наживо учасник чи учасники відволікаються на свої смартфони. Активна протидія цій соціальній проблемі, як на світовому рівні, так і на рівні України зокрема, не набула високого рівня уваги з боку користувачів мережі (за результатами дослідження через сервіс Google Trends), що зумовлює необхідність актуалізації питання дослідження фабінгу та його негативного впливу на якість комунікацій. Для формування ефективного маркетолога-професіонала, який буде працювати в умовах інформаційного суспільства з активним використанням сучасних засобів комунікації, необхідним є формування в ньому якостей, які будуть мінімізувати ризики порушень ефективної комунікаційної взаємодії. Тому для мінімізації випадків фабінгу під час здійснення професійної діяльності маркетологів необхідним є розробка та використання принципів комунікативної взаємодії, системи етичних принципів чи кодексу професійної етики, які б дозволяли безперешкодне ефективне виконання відповідних професійних обов’язків.
... However, within the realm of familial interactions, parents' engagement in phubbing emerges as a detrimental factor that disrupts parental attentiveness [54,55]. For children, parental phubbing equates to social ostracism [56]. When parents neglect to address the needs and expectations of their children or spend inadequate time with them, children feel neglected and excluded by their parents [40,57]. ...
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Parental phubbing behavior is a significant predictor of adolescent smartphone dependence. However, previous research has mainly focused on the child and adolescent’s perspective, overlooking potential differences in how parents and their children perceive parental phubbing. Therefore, this study investigates whether disparities exist in how parents and adolescents perceive parental phubbing and how these perceptual differences impact adolescent smartphone dependence. We also explore the role of the parent–child relationship in this context. In this study, 728 families from a middle school in Wuhan were selected and surveys were administered to both children and parents. The findings are as follows: (1) Significant perceptual differences were found between parents and adolescents regarding parental phubbing. (2) These perceptual discrepancies positively predict adolescent smartphone dependence and negatively impact parent–child relationships. Additionally, parent–child relationships have a negative influence on adolescent smartphone dependence. (3) The parent–child relationship serves as a mediator between perceptual differences in parental phubbing behavior and adolescent smartphone dependence. In summary, this research highlights the importance of considering both parent and adolescent perspectives on parental phubbing and emphasizes the role of the parent–child relationship in influencing adolescent smartphone dependence.
... Studies on technoference were initiated in romantic relationships finding that diminished interactions due to digital interruptions led to greater conflict between couples and lower relationship satisfaction, resulting in depression and lower life satisfaction [9,11]. However, research has since begun to explore the association between technoference and the parent-child dynamic, reporting the extent of electronic device use within families and its potential impairment on parent-child interactions [12], parenting quality [13] and children's behaviour [14]. ...
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Purpose The term ‘technoference’ refers to habitual interferences and disruptions within interpersonal relationships or time spent together due to use of electronic devices. Emerging evidence suggests associations between parental technoference and young people’s mental health and violent behaviours. This scoping review sought to summarise the existing literature. Methods A scoping review was undertaken across six databases (APA PsycINFO, MEDLINE, ASSIA, ERIC, Social Sciences Premium Collection, SciTech Premium). Searches included articles examining the association between parental technoference and adolescent mental health and violent behaviours. All included studies provided empirical findings. Results Searches retrieved 382 articles, of which 13 articles met the eligibility criteria. A narrative approach was applied to synthesise the eligible findings. Across all studies, adolescent perceptions of parental technoference were negatively associated to adolescent mental health and positively related to adolescent violent behaviours. Parental cohesion and mental health were identified as significant mediating factors. Conclusion Findings suggest that parents should be aware of the environment in which they use electronic devices as their use can potentially, directly and indirectly, influence adolescent mental health and violent behaviours. Further research into the potential caveats of parental technoference could support the development of evidence-informed guidelines for parental management of electronic devices.
... Thus, they engaged in online interactions, which eventually limited their social skills, and consequently preferred online interactions over face-to-face interactions. In line with these findings, previous studies that addressed the role of external factors (e.g., physical and social conditions, COVID-19, being away from home and family, and experiencing aloofness from others) have highlighted the excessive use of smartphones and a shift from direct communication to online interactions (David & Roberts, 2017;Jameel et al., 2019;Ochs & Sauer, 2022;Rudert & Janke, 2023;Yildirim & Correia, 2015). ...
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Objective: Nomophobia, as a growing phenomenon, has gradually affected the quality of social interactions and people's communication and has had considerable consequences on the quality of their real-world relationships. The present study aimed to identify the quality of social interactions and the factors underlying their formation based on the experiences of girls with nomophobia syndrome. Methods: This qualitative study was conducted using the grounded theory approach. The participants were 20 girls with nomophobia symptoms, who were selected through purposive sampling from among all unmarried girls aged 20–30 living in Babol, Iran in 2022. The participants were screened using the Nomophobia Questionnaire (NMP-Q) and open-ended questions asked by the researcher. The data were collected through semi-structured interviews and participant observation. Data analysis was performed using Strauss and Corbin's (1998) approach until the data saturation point. Results: The data revealed 103 open codes, 24 axial codes, and 10 selective codes clustered into five main categories: Contextual conditions (family background and socio-economic conditions), causal conditions (individual and personality factors and individual's internal experiences from online interactions), intervening conditions (external facilitators and inhibitors), action and reaction (alternative strategies in social interactions), and consequences (attachment consequences, mobile loss consequences, and interactional consequences of online communication). Conclusion: This study identified five main categories of themes that can account for the process of nomophobia and understand how people with nomophobia interact socially. Following the developed model and the related factors, related professionals can make more accurate evaluations and then conduct more effective interventions with a focus on reducing and eliminating drivers and forces underlying, perpetuating, and reinforcing nomophobia and preventing and treating it based on individual characteristics of the affected people. Moreover, some suggestions were offered for further research and interventions in this field.
... Phubbing is deemed problematic and has been shown to negatively affect individuals' interpersonal relationships in ways such as lowering perceived conversation quality and relationship satisfaction of their social partners (e.g. Chotpitayasunondh and Douglas 2018a;Wang et al. 2017), which in turn can undermine the wellbeing of both those who phub and those who are phubbed by causing higher levels of stress, depression, and anxiety (David and Roberts 2017;Roberts and David 2016). ...
Tujuan penelitian ini adalah untuk mengetahui pengaruh fear of missing out terhadapphubbing dengan social media addiction sebagai mediator di SMPK 3 Penabur Jakarta.Populasi dalam penelitian ini berjumlah 200 siswa kelas 7 dan 8 tahun pelajaran 2022/2023dan sampel dalam penelitian berjumlah 127 siswa. Teknik pengambilan sampel dalampenelitian ini dengan menggunakan stratified random sampling dan instrumen penelitianmenggunakan skala likert. Data kemudian diolah dengan menggunakan JASP melihat pengaruh antar variabel dan untuk melihat apakah social media addictiondapat memediasi pengaruh fear of missing out terhadap phubbing. Hasil penelitian inisecara direct effect dengan estimasi sebesar 0.034 dan p < 0.05 artinya fear of missing outmempunyai pengaruh langsung terhadap phubbing serta indirect effect dengan estimasisebesar 0.053 dan p <0.05 artinya social media addiction terbukti sebagai mediator fear ofmissing out terhadap phubbing.
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Tujuan penelitian ini adalah untuk mengetahui pengaruh antara perilaku phubbing dan intensitas penggunaan media sosial terhadap interaksi sosial mahasiswa di Jurusan Ilmu Pendidikan ULM. Metode penelitian ini menggunakan pendekatan kuantitatif dengan jenis penelitian pengaruh. Populasi dalam penelitian ini adalah mahasiswa angkatan 2018 di Jurusan Ilmu Pendidikan. Adapun teknik penarikan sampel menggunakan quota sampling. Instrumen penelitian data yang digunakan dalam penelitian ini adalah angket/kuisioner skala likert. Berdasarkan hasil analisis data ditemukan bahwa terdapat pengaruh antara perilaku phubbing dan intensitas penggunaan media sosial secara bersama-sama terhadap interaksi sosial. Pengaruh X1 dan X2 terhadap Y sebesar 10.8%, sisanya 89.2% dipengaruhi oleh faktor penyebab lainnya.
Phubbing, or phone snubbing, is the extent to which someone uses their phone in the presence of others. Phone use has become expected when people are around each other and research continues to explore the impact it has on relationship satisfaction. More specifically, the impact of phubbing through the lens of attachment and couple satisfaction. This study utilized a sample of 103 heterosexual couples to explore how perceptions of phubbing behaviors can inform the established relationship between attachment and relationship satisfaction for the individual and the relationship. An Actor-Partner Interdependence Moderation Model (APIMoM) was used for analysis and found actor and partner effects in perceptions of phubbing moderated the relationship between an individual's anxious attachment and avoidant attachment to their partner's reports of couple satisfaction. This supports the independent and interdependent nature of phubbing and the impact it has on the understanding of attachment and couple satisfaction.
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Partner phubbing (Pphubbing) can be best understood as the extent to which an individual uses or is distracted by his/her cell phone while in the company of his/her relationship partner. The present study is the first to investigate the oft-occurring behavior of Pphubbing and its impact on relationship satisfaction and personal well-being. In Study 1, a nine-item scale was developed to measure Pphubbing. The scale was found to be highly reliable and valid. Study 2 assessed the study's proposed relationships among a sample of 145 adults. Results suggest that Pphubbing's impact on relationship satisfaction is mediated by conflict over cell phone use. One's attachment style was found to moderate the Pphubbing - cell phone conflict relationship. Those with anxious attachment styles reported higher levels of cell phone conflict than those with less anxious attachment styles. Importantly, Pphubbing was found to indirectly impact depression through relationship satisfaction and ultimately life satisfaction. Given the ever-increasing use of cell phones to communicate between romantic partners, the present research offers insight into the process by which such use may impact relationship satisfaction and personal well-being. Directions for future research are discussed.
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Cell phones have become ubiquitous within our society, and many would now consider them a necessity rather than a convenience. This widespread use of cell phones and other mobile communication devices has brought with it an increasing acceptance of their use in virtually all social situations. It is no longer taboo to be caught with a ringing cell phone at a dinner with family and friends, at a sporting event, or even during a church service. Incoming calls are no longer seen as interruptions of the primary activity taking place, but are instead treated as equally important communications. Proximity is becoming inconsequential in terms of social interaction. This study seeks to determine how mobile technology has changed our culture and identifies the ways in which we now perceive socially acceptable communication.
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Technology use has proliferated in family life; everyday intrusions and interruptions due to technology devices, which we term “technoference,” will likely occur. We examine the frequency of technoference in romantic relationships and whether these everyday interruptions relate to women’s personal and relational well-being. Participants were 143 married/cohabiting women who completed an online questionnaire. The majority perceived that technology devices (such as computers, cell or smartphones, or TV) frequently interrupted their interactions, such as couple leisure time, conversations, and mealtimes, with their partners. Overall, participants who rated more technoference in their relationships also reported more conflict over technology use, lower relationship satisfaction, more depressive symptoms, and lower life satisfaction. We tested a structural equation model of technoference predicting conflict over technology use, which then predicted relationship satisfaction, which finally predicted depression and life satisfaction. By allowing technology to interfere with or interrupt conversations, activities, and time with romantic partners—even when unintentional or for brief moments—individuals may be sending implicit messages about what they value most, leading to conflict and negative outcomes in personal life and relationships.
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Background and aims: The primary objective of the present study was to investigate which cell-phone activities are associated with cell-phone addiction. No research to date has studied the full-range of cell-phone activities, and their relationship to cell-phone addiction, across male and female cell-phone users. Methods: College undergraduates (N = 164) participated in an online survey. Participants completed the questionnaire as part of their class requirements. The questionnaire took 10 and 15 minutes to complete and contained a measure of cell-phone addiction and questions that asked how much time participants spent daily on 24 cell-phone activities. Results: Findings revealed cell-phone activities that are associated significantly with cell-phone addiction (e.g., Instagram, Pinterest), as well as activities that one might logically assume would be associated with this form of addiction but are not (e.g., Internet use and Gaming). Cell-phone activities that drive cell-phone addiction (CPA) were found to vary considerably across male and female cell-phone users. Although a strong social component drove CPA for both males and females, the specific activities associated with CPA differed markedly. Conclusions: CPA amongst the total sample is largely driven by a desire to connect socially. The activities found to be associated with CPA, however, differed across the sexes. As the functionality of cell-phones continues to expand, addiction to this seemingly indispensable piece of technology becomes an increasingly realistic possibility. Future research must identify the activities that push cell-phone use beyond its “tipping point” where it crosses the line from a helpful tool to one that undermines our personal well-being and that of others.
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Social exclusion has been shown to produce a number of different responses. This research examines the proposition that social exclusion may produce either self-focused or prosocial responses, depending on which needs are threatened. Different types of social exclusion threaten different needs, which in turn produce distinct outcomes (differential needs hypothesis). Social exclusion in the form of being implicitly ignored increased conspicuous consumption, whereas being explicitly rejected increased helping and donation behavior. However, when efficacy needs (power, meaningful existence) were bolstered, the effects of being ignored were eliminated, whereas when relational needs (self-esteem) were bolstered, the effects of being rejected were eliminated. The results indicate that certain types of social exclusion produce prosocial responses, whereas others produce self-focused and attention-getting responses.
Marketing researchers and practitioners are showing substantial interest in social media communication, trying to understand the challenges and opportunities associated with this new cultural and social phenomenon. In this research, the authors examine social media as a new attachment phenomenon, positing likely predictive links to marketing-related social media behaviors. Researchers have demonstrated useful applicability of psychological attachment theory to a variety of other marketing contexts, including special possessions, places, brands, and services. Attachment to such varied focal targets has been shown to influence behaviors of interest to marketers. However, research to date has yet to develop a conceptualization or operationalization of attachment in the social media context. The authors seek to contribute to the literature in two primary ways: first, we provide a foundational definition of attachment to social media, and conduct four initial studies to develop a measure that meets desired reliability and validity standards. Secondly, in a fifth study, we use this validated measure to test its empirical usefulness in predicting social media behaviors in an applied retail setting. Taken together, the results are particularly valuable in demonstrating that attachment to social media is a distinct, measurable phenomenon that helps to explain various activities on social media platforms, including C2C advocacy and C2B supportive communication behaviors. Results reveal practical guidance for marketing managers wrestling with developing effective social media marketing strategies.
As the use of social network sites (SNS) proliferates, more people than ever are becoming connected to one another. Nonetheless, we have little knowledge about how certain characteristics of SNS fulfill their users’ need for social connection and enhance this connectivity. Building on uses and gratification theory, this study of Twitter users posits that users are drawn to SNS to fulfill their social connection needs and that the sense of social presence SNS engender plays a significant role in fulfilling these needs. We argue that this sense of social presence is formed by immediacy-related characteristics (represented as immediate feedback) and intimacy-related characteristics (represented as feelings of privacy and responsiveness) of SNS in Twitter. We further investigate how those characteristics operate differently on mobile and non-mobile users. To test our hypotheses, we conducted a cross-sectional survey of 798 Twitter users and analyzed their responses using a structural equation model. The results support our research model. Furthermore, analysis of the responses of 367 primarily mobile users and 161 primarily desktop users indicates that the linkage between immediacy-related characteristics and social presence is stronger and the linkage between intimacy-related characteristics and social presence is weaker among mobile users than desktop users of Twitter.
This research proposes that after an experience of being excluded, consumers may strategically choose products to differentiate themselves from the majority of others as a result of their appraisal of the exclusion situation. Experiments 1 and 2 show that when excluded individuals perceive that the cause of social exclusion is stable (vs. unstable), they exhibit greater preference for distinctive products than do included individuals. Experiment 3 documents that excluded individuals prefer distinctive products when their self-view is enhanced through self-affirmation. Moreover, these effects are driven by a strengthened perception of uniqueness. Theoretical and practical implications are discussed.
As the penetration of mobile phones in societies increases, there is a large growth in the use of mobile phones especially among the youth. This trend is followed by the fast growth in use of online social networking services (SNS). Extensive use of technology can lead to addiction. This study finds that the use of SNS mobile applications is a significant predictor of mobile addiction. The result also shows that the use of SNS mobile applications is affected by both SNS network size and SNS intensity of the user. This study has implications for academia as well as governmental and non-for-profit organizations regarding the effect of mobile phones on individual's and public health.