The association between smartphone use, stress, and anxiety: A meta-analytic review

Stress Health. 2018 Aug;34(3):347-358. doi: 10.1002/smi.2805. Epub 2018 Apr 19.


Research investigating the various mental, physical, and social effects of smartphone use has proliferated in the previous decade. Two variables of interest in this literature are the levels of anxiety and stress associated with smartphone use. The current meta-analysis aimed to provide the first quantitative review of this literature, as well as determine potential moderators that might influence this relationship. A total of 39 independent samples (N = 21, 736) were used to compute a summary effect size of r = .22, p < .001, CI [.17-.28] indicating a small-to-medium association between smartphone use and stress and anxiety. Significant moderators included the year in which the article was published, as well as whether problematic or nonproblematic phone use was assessed. In addition, studies using validated measures of smartphone use indicated a (nonsignificantly) larger association than studies using nonvalidated measures. Strengths and limitations of the meta-analysis, as well as future directions of research are discussed.

Keywords: anxiety; meta-analysis; mobile phones; smartphones; stress.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Anxiety / epidemiology*
  • Humans
  • Smartphone / statistics & numerical data*
  • Stress, Psychological / epidemiology*