The study aims to assess prevalence of smartphone addiction symptoms, and to ascertain whether depression or anxiety, independently, contributes to smartphone addiction level among a sample of Lebanese university students, while adjusting simultaneously for important sociodemographic, academic, lifestyle, personality trait, and smartphone-related variables.
A random sample of 688 undergraduate university students (mean age = 20.64 ±1.88 years; 53% men) completed a survey composed of a) questions about socio-demographics, academics, lifestyle behaviors, personality type, and smartphone use-related variables; b) 26-item Smartphone Addiction Inventory (SPAI) Scale; and c) brief screeners of depression and anxiety (PHQ-2 and GAD-2), which constitute the two core DSM-IV items for major depressive disorder and generalized anxiety disorder, respectively.
Prevalence rates of smartphone-related compulsive behavior, functional impairment, tolerance and withdrawal symptoms were substantial. 35.9% felt tired during daytime due to late-night smartphone use, 38.1% acknowledged decreased sleep quality, and 35.8% slept less than four hours due to smartphone use more than once. Whereas gender, residence, work hours per week, faculty, academic performance (GPA), lifestyle habits (smoking and alcohol drinking), and religious practice did not associate with smartphone addiction score; personality type A, class (year 2 vs. year 3), younger age at first smartphone use, excessive use during a weekday, using it for entertainment and not using it to call family members, and having depression or anxiety, showed statistically significant associations with smartphone addiction. Depression and anxiety scores emerged as independent positive predictors of smartphone addiction, after adjustment for confounders.
Several independent positive predictors of smartphone addiction emerged including depression and anxiety. It could be that young adults with personality type A experiencing high stress level and low mood may lack positive stress coping mechanisms and mood management techniques and are thus highly susceptible to smartphone addiction.