Smartphone addiction across the lifetime during Italian lockdown for COVID-19

J Addict Dis. Oct-Dec 2021;39(4):441-449. doi: 10.1080/10550887.2021.1889751. Epub 2021 Mar 3.

Abstract

Background: Smartphone misuse, also known as Nomophobia is the fear of not being able to consult your own mobile phone, of not being connected or traceable. During the Italian lockdown caused by COVID-19, while the use of technology was the fundamental basis of adaptation for smart working, school and professional training, leading to a change in the population's lifestyle, smartphone dependency caused impaired social relationships. To date, the impact of smartphone dependency in men and women is unclear. We conducted this study with the hypothesis that a period of lockdown fosters the growth of a pathological use of the cell phone different in women and men.

Objective: The purpose of this work is to investigate gender differences in the level of smartphone dependency in teens and adults during the COVID-19 lockdown period.

Material and methods: The NoMobilePhobia-Questionnaire (NMP-Q) was presented online to 1264 participants between the ages of 15 and 67.

Results: The results show no significant main effects for the two factors taken into account (Gender and Age of participants). However, the significant interaction shows that female participants reported on average higher scores on NMP-Q than males, [F(4,1253) =7.06 and p<.001, observed power close to 1 (0.99) and effect size = 0.03 (ETA partial squared)] for the younger age group (15-44), while for those over the age of 44, the average highest scores were for male participants.

Conclusions: One of the "positive" aspects of the COVID-19 pandemic is the use of the Internet and smartphones, and our analysis aimed to document the frequency of use in the Italian context with the NMP-Q. However, we can also conclude that this research is relevant because it can give us a glimpse of the relationship between dependency and mental issues. The results reveal the risk in some of the Italian population of developing forms of smartphone dependency, especially in circumstances that prohibit direct social interactions.

Keywords: Addiction; lockdown; no mobile phobia; smartphone.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • COVID-19 / epidemiology*
  • COVID-19 / psychology
  • Cell Phone Use / statistics & numerical data*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Internet Addiction Disorder / epidemiology
  • Italy / epidemiology
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Phobic Disorders / epidemiology
  • Self Report
  • Smartphone / statistics & numerical data*
  • Social Isolation / psychology*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Young Adult