Does mindfulness reduce the effects of risk factors for problematic smartphone use? Comparing frequency of use versus self-reported addiction
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BACKGROUND: There is growing concern regarding problematic smartphone overuse. Practiced mindfulness, the state of being aware of the present moment, may protect against problematic smartphone use by reducing the strength of risk factors. PURPOSE: We hypothesized that trait mindfulness can reduce the impact of risk factors on a) objective smartphone use and b) subjective problematic smartphone use. METHODS: Our sample (n = 135, Mage = 19.15, 68% female) consisted of college students from a large university. Participants completed self-report measures of boredom proneness, impulsivity, technology-related anxiety (nomophobia), trait mindfulness, smartphone use frequency, and problematic use. RESULTS: Higher mindfulness was significantly associated with lower boredom proneness, impulsivity, and problematic use (F = 12.12, p < .01). Hierarchical regression revealed that the positive relationships between nomophobia, and problematic use decreased as mindfulness levels increased. A similar protective effect was observed for boredom proneness, although the effect dissipated as impulsivity rose. A second regression revealed no significant predictors of weekly smartphone use. CONCLUSIONS: Effects of nomophobia and boredom proneness on problematic smartphone use diminish with increased mindfulness, but impulsivity may interfere with this. Risk and protective factors for 'addiction' appear unrelated to smartphone use frequency. Future research should examine benefits of mindfulness-based interventions in promoting emotional and cognitive self-regulation, focusing on those who use smartphones in dysfunctional ways.
author list (cited authors)
Regan, T., Harris, B., Van Loon, M., Nanavaty, N., Schueler, J., Engler, S., & Fields, S. A.