Relationship between the Manner of Mobile Phone Use and Depression, Anxiety, and Stress in University Students

Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2018 Apr 8;15(4):697. doi: 10.3390/ijerph15040697.


Objectives: There is insufficient evidence regarding the potential risk of mobile phone use on mental health. Therefore, the aim of this research was to examine the relationship between mobile phone use and mental health by measuring the levels of depression, anxiety, and stress among university students in Serbia and Italy. Methods: This cross-sectional study was carried out at two distinguished universities in Serbia and Italy from March to May of the 2015/2016 academic year and included 785 students of both genders. The questionnaire was compiled and developed from different published sources regarding the manner and intensity of mobile phone use, along with the Depression Anxiety Stress Scale (DASS 42) for measuring psychological health. The statistical analysis of the data included the application of binary logistic regression and correlation tests. Results: Statistical analysis indicates that anxiety symptoms are somewhat more present in younger students (odds ratio (OR) = 0.86, 95% confidence interval (CI): 0.76-0.96), in those who send more text messages SMSs (OR = 1.15, 95% CI: 1.11-1.31), and in those who browse the internet less frequently (OR = 0.84, 95% CI: 0.73-0.95). Stress is more common in students who make fewer calls a day (OR = 0.79, 95% CI: 0.64-0.97), as well in those who spend more time talking on the mobile phone per day (OR = 1.28, 95% CI: 1.12-1.56). The strongest predictor of high stress levels was keeping the mobile phone less than 1 m away during sleeping (OR = 1.48, 95% CI: 1.12-2.08). Conclusions: The results indicated that the intensity and modality of mobile phone use could be a factor that can influence causal pathways leading to mental health problems in the university student population.

Keywords: anxiety; depression; mental health; mobile phone; stress.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Anxiety / epidemiology*
  • Cell Phone
  • Cell Phone Use / statistics & numerical data*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Depression / epidemiology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Internet
  • Italy / epidemiology
  • Male
  • Mental Health
  • Serbia / epidemiology
  • Stress, Psychological / epidemiology*
  • Students / psychology*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Text Messaging
  • Universities
  • Young Adult