Mobile Phone Addiction

Mobile Phone Addiction

Louis Leung, Jingwen Liang
Copyright: © 2015 |Pages: 8
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-8239-9.ch053
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This article reviews the literature on mobile phone addiction, the excessive use of mobile phone technology, which is an impulse control disorder with negative social and psychological consequences. It provides a clear definition of mobile phone addiction, along with its theoretical origin, diagnostic criteria for assessment, and an identification of the symptoms and consequences of addictive behavior. More importantly, it summarizes key predictors of this addictive behavior from a psychosocial perspective. The article also points out potential relationships between mobile phone addiction and other social behaviors. Finally, it discusses limitations of the assessment criteria for mobile phone addiction and makes suggestions for future research.
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Recent technological developments have turned mobile phones into multifunctional machines for everyday use. The arrival of the smartphone brought convenience to interpersonal conversation, social networking, agenda management, entertainment, shopping, and other personal activities. Probably no other modern device is embedded into our lives as deeply as the mobile phone. However, an alarming consequence of this embedding has begun to emerge. Excessive dependency upon this technology leads to serious psychological and behavioral impacts on mobile phone users. In particular, as mobile phones embrace features and capabilities from laptop computers and telecommunication technologies, such as easy-to-use interfaces, mobility, Internet access, interactive games, and access to social media (e.g., Facebook, WhatsApp, and Instagram), the potential risk of uncontrolled use increases greatly.

In recent years, studies have shed light on the behavioral health issues related to the problematic use of mobile phones. Examining the literature, we can find a group of similar terminologies that fall under the conceptual umbrella of problematic mobile phone use, including mobile phone addiction, mobile phone dependency, and pathological or maladaptive mobile phone use. Since these constructs were developed in similar academic disciplines (e.g., social psychology, communication, and behavioral health) using theoretical models and explanations with shared focuses and elements, these concepts are often interchangeable.

Today, as mobile phones become increasingly sophisticated and multifunctional, adolescents and young users are becoming increasingly dependent, or “addicted,” to this technology, not only for interpersonal communication through voice or text (i.e., short messaging service—SMS) but also as a tool for seeking gratification, searching for information, entertainment, relaxation, passing time, picture and video taking, and expressing status and identity, as well as currently undiscovered applications (Charlton, Panting, & Hannan, 2002; Leung & Wei, 2000). This chapter provides a clear definition of mobile phone addiction and reviews the literature surrounding it, focusing especially on diagnostic criteria, predictors, symptoms, and consequences of this addictive behavior.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Mobile Phone Addiction: A compulsive (or impulsive) usage of the mobile phone.

Addiction Assessment: Diagnostic criteria for screening addictive smartphone use.

Addiction Symptoms: A maladaptive pattern of substance use, leading to significant psychological impairment and is manifested by symptoms such as withdrawal, tolerance, preoccupation, and loss of control over the substance.

Smartphone: A mobile phone with more advanced functions including web browsing, GPS navigation, personal digital assistant, a media player, a digital camera, a motion sensor for interactive games, a touch screen, Wi-Fi, and 3rd-party apps.

Behavioral Addiction: An impulse control disorder involving non-chemical human-machine interaction.

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