Finding the "sweet spot" of smartphone use: Reduction or abstinence to increase well-being and healthy lifestyle?! An experimental intervention study

J Exp Psychol Appl. 2022 Apr 7. doi: 10.1037/xap0000430. Online ahead of print.

Abstract

The present experimental study compared the impact of a total abstinence from smartphone use and of a reduction of daily smartphone use by 1 hr on well-being and healthy lifestyle. Participants (Ntotal = 619) were smartphone users in Germany. The first experimental group (N = 200) waived smartphone use for 7 days, the second experimental group (N = 226) reduced its daily use by 1 hr, and the control group (N = 193) used smartphone as usual. Variables of smartphone use (time, intensity, problematic tendencies), life satisfaction, depressive symptoms, anxiety symptoms, physical activity, and smoking behavior were assessed via online surveys at four measurement time points (baseline; postintervention; 1 and 4 months after postintervention). Both interventions reduced smartphone use intensity, problematic use tendencies, depressive, and anxiety symptoms. In both groups, life satisfaction and physical activity increased. Most effects were stronger and remained more stable over 4 months in the reduction group than in the abstinence group. Moreover, in the reduction group only, the number of daily smoked cigarettes decreased. Thus, less time spent on the smartphone leads to more well-being and a healthier lifestyle; a complete smartphone abstinence is not necessary. Programs that focus on the increase of well-being and a healthier lifestyle could benefit from the integration of controlled reduction of smartphone use. A potential "sweet spot" of smartphone use is discussed. (PsycInfo Database Record (c) 2022 APA, all rights reserved).