Corona pandemic causes more cell phone addicts

Smartphone use has risen sharply in the pandemic, and some of the use is addictive, a study has found. There is often a certain fear behind it.

Researchers at Ruhr University Bochum see a connection between “problematic” cell phone use and feelings of loss of control during the pandemic.

The study was published in the journal PLOS ONE. “With control in the online world, the respondents tried to compensate for the loss of control by Corona,” said co-author and psychologist Julia Brailovskaia, describing the effect.

Addictive cell phone use proven

Brailovskaia spoke of a partly addictive use of the smartphone. The intensive use was not questioned. The respondents had reacted aggressively when they were approached by their social environment about the high use. Previous studies have shown that exercise and sports help reduce problematic cell phone use, according to Brailovskaia. “It’s banal, but I can’t be online when I’m exercising,” the researcher told dpa.

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Fear of loss of control a reason

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

The researchers not only asked the subjects to indicate their smartphone use. They also had to answer questions about the feeling of having little control, the fear of missing something, and recurring negative thoughts. The study found a statistical correlation between problematic smartphone use and these factors. But that is not proof of a causal relationship, the authors emphasize.