Over the last two decades, the huge rise in demand for interpersonal, mass communication technology has boosted smartphone evolution. From 2010 to 2011, sales increased by 58% and accounted for 31% of mobile phone sales (Silva, 2012). By 2013, 51% of adults owned smartphones in the UK (Ofcom, 2013). Thanks to WI-FI smartphone functions are endless and easily accessible. Devices boast browser access, multiple downloadable applications (apps), camera’s and organisation systems. They are a mandatory device within industrialised cultures (Kwon, Lee & Won et al., 2013). However, there is evidence to suggest that there is an over-dependence on smartphones which can lead to destructive public health inferences (Monk, Carroll, Parker & Blythe, 2004; Palen, Salzman & Youngs, 2001; Paragras, 2005; Sarwar, 2013). Including antisocial feelings of rejection within families (Rosman, 2006) and negative clinical health implications (Shin & Dey, 2013) such as addiction (Lopez-Fernandez & Honrubia-Serrano et al., 2013).
Rosen, Cheever and Carrier (2012) defined negative relationships between psychological health and technology overuse as an ‘iDisorder.'; which smartphone addiction could be classed as. Roos (2001) defines three factors to mobile phone addiction; phones are always switched on, will be used regardless of landline telephone availability and use causes social or financial difficulties. Smartphones provide us with an unparalleled level of connectedness; but the psychological cost is unknown. The depth of such relationships may not be equal to real-life communications; and they may be engaged in to raise self-esteem by feeling popular – an indicator of narcissism (Campbell & Miller, 2011). Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD), an Axis II disorder in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual: fifth edition (DSM-V), is defined by self-promotion, vanity, grandiose sense of self-importance, power fantasies and superficial relationships. Twenge and Campbell (2013) warn of ‘The Narcissism Epidemic’ and report narcissism in America has risen as much as obesity. Smartphones may influence the development of NPD and could potentially influence a dependence to online gaming or gambling. Smartphones allow access to gambling and gaming sites (Young, 2000). These are easily accessible via a smartphone and ease of access is a key factor in developing dependence (Griffiths & Barnes, 2008).
Many studies have investigated addictive internet use which evidence psychosocial implications (Whang, Lee & Chang, 2003; Siomos et al., 2012). Yao and Zhong (2014) conducted a cross-lagged panel survey with 361 students investigating causal priority between psychological health and internet addiction. It was reported that loneliness was increased by excessive internet use and online relationships are not a healthy substitute for real life interactions. Whilst real life interaction may reduce internet addiction, increased online interactions due to excessive internet use can neutralise the effect. The study offers a perturbing view of a cruel circle of internet addiction and loneliness. Although, the different platforms for internet use were not investigated and no significant effect was found for depression. Yen, Yen, Wu, Huang and Ko (2011) investigated differences between real life and online hostility and whether these differences were mediated by online activities, depression and internet use. They reported that internet addiction and depression increases both real life and online hostility. However, depressed participants showed lower hostility behaviours when online; suggesting the internet as a positive pathway for depression interventions. Although, the percentage of depressed participants who suffered internet addiction was not reported.