Fewer smartphones, more well-being — ScienceDaily

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We blame smartphone use for a number of negative consequences, ranging from neck pain to addictive behaviors. Privat-Dozentin Dr. Julia Brailovskaia and her team set out to find out if our lives are actually better off without smartphones, or rather: how much less smartphone use per day is good for us. The psychologist at the Center for Mental Health Research and Treatment at Ruhr-Universität Bochum (RUB) asked around 200 test participants to do without their smartphones completely for a week, reduce their daily use by an hour or to use the smartphone in the same way as before. . Their conclusions show it: in the long term, those who have reduced their consumption are doing the best. The researcher’s report in the Journal of Experimental Psychology: Applied from April 7, 2022.

How good is smartphone use for us?

On average, we spend more than three hours a day glued to the screens of our smartphones. We google directions, check email or the weather, shop, read the news, watch movies, hang out on social media. It seems reasonable to suspect that all of this is not good for us. Studies have shown that smartphone use is linked to issues such as decreased physical activity, obesity, neck pain, reduced performance, and addictive-like behaviors, to name a few. some. “The smartphone is both a blessing and a curse,” says Julia Brailovskaia.

His team wanted to know: how many smartphones are good for us? To this end, the researchers compared the effect of complete abstinence from the smartphone with a reduction in daily screen time and continued use without any change. They recruited 619 people for their study and randomly divided them into three groups. 200 people completely put their smartphone aside for a week. 226 reduced device usage time by one hour per day. 193 people did not change anything in their behavior.

Physical activity, cigarettes, life satisfaction, anxiety, depression

Researchers asked all participants about their lifestyle habits and well-being immediately after the intervention, one month, and four months later. How many have practiced physical activity? How many cigarettes did they smoke per day? How satisfied did they feel with their lives? Did they show signs of anxiety or depression? “We found that completely abandoning the smartphone and reducing its daily use by one hour had positive effects on the lifestyle and well-being of the participants”, summarizes Julia Brailovskaia. “In the group that reduced their use, these effects even lasted longer and were therefore more stable than in the abstinence group.”

It is not necessary to do without it completely

The week-long intervention changed participants’ usage patterns over the long term: even four months after the end of the experiment, members of the abstinence group used their smartphones an average of 38 minutes less per day than ‘before. The group that had spent an hour less per day with the smartphone during the experiment used it up to 45 minutes less per day after four months than before. At the same time, life satisfaction and time spent in physical activity increased. Symptoms of depression and anxiety as well as nicotine consumption decreased. “You don’t have to give up the smartphone altogether to feel better,” concludes Brailovskaia. “There may be an optimal daily duration of use.”

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Materials provided by Ruhr-University of Bochum. Original written by Meike Drießen. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.