Smartphone addiction: A third of people may be at high risk

Health 18:25 04.04.2024

A new Canadian study has found that around one-third of people around the world may be at a high risk for smartphone addiction, with women and people in parts of Asia more likely to report problematic use.

The study, published Tuesday in the International Journal of Mental Health and Addiction(opens in a new tab), asked more than 50,000 people, between 18 and 90 years of age, from 195 countries to gauge how problematic their smartphone use is – or when a person's habitual smartphone use interferes negatively with their life.

The researchers, who hail from the University of Toronto Mississauga, McGIll University and Harvard University, describe this research as the largest of its kind in the field.

"We wanted to provide sort of a foundational understanding of problematic smartphone use across the world," Jay Olson, a postdoctoral fellow in the department of psychology at the University of Toronto Mississauga and lead researcher for the study, said in an interview Monday with CTVNews.ca.

The study found that women generally, across countries, reported higher problematic smartphone use than men.

"That kind of consistency across the world would suggest that this isn't an incidental finding that was from say how one country interpreted the scale … it seems like this is a solid global finding," Olson said.

Problematic smartphone use also tends to decline with age, although some "atypical" patterns emerged when looking at specific countries, the study says.

Canada for its part ranked among the middle of the pack.

"So it might be affecting your concentration at school or work, or affecting your sleep, for example, and so these kinds of subjective personal effects of smartphones we find just as important as things like overall screen time," Olson said.

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