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Who is a smartphone addict? The impact of personal factors and type of usage on smartphone addiction in a Dutch population

Bolle, C.L. (2014) Who is a smartphone addict? The impact of personal factors and type of usage on smartphone addiction in a Dutch population.

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Abstract:More than 80% of the Dutch are online via their smartphones. While these devices have a lot positive features, they also can create problematic behaviors, such as a smartphone addiction. In this research, the process of developing smartphone habits and smartphone addiction are investigated. Furthermore, the effect of social usage, process usage, emotional intelligence, social stress, and self-regulation on smartphone addiction and habits are examined. Finally, the role of age and gender on all determinants is further explored. While prior research on online addiction is a well-developed research domain, studies focusing on this phenomenon in the smartphone context are relatively new. It is assumed that (smartphone) addiction can be developed through repeated actions (habits): when an action is rewarding, it will likely reoccur, this is also called operant conditioning. Process usage is typically a sort of usage that is pleasurable and rewarding; likewise, social usage of a smartphone is rewarding and can function as a substitute for other communication channels (e.g., face-to-face interaction). Therefore, personal factors are of importance. Emotional intelligence (EI) influences our well-being and, in addition, determines our capability to communicate. Other personal factors, such as social stress, influence the way we communicate. Specifically, people with high levels of social stress have more anxiety to meet people face-to-face and present themselves. Finally, self-regulation — i.e. how good people are in controlling and regulating their behavior — is an important factor. Without self-regulation, there is no control over one’s behavior such in addiction. All those factors can differ between men and women and across age (groups). To examine the determinants, an empirical study was conducted among a Dutch population. A survey was conducted with 386 volunteer participants. To test the hypotheses, a structural equation modeling using Amos 20.0 was applied. The results suggest that smartphone addiction exists and it can develop through habits. Younger persons are more vulnerable with regard to developing an addiction, especially when they have higher levels of social stress, are weak at self-regulation, and extensively use their smartphones for social and process purposes. Furthermore, females are somewhat more sensitive to develop addiction because of higher rates in social stress and social usage typical of this gender group. The findings can be explained by differences in the generations. The younger generation, the Millenials, are grown up with digital innovations and rely (heavily) on digital sources. Social anxiety is thereby of importance, as it is a determinant of smartphone addiction, because persons use their smartphones as substitutes of other communication tools.
Item Type:Essay (Master)
Faculty:BMS: Behavioural, Management and Social Sciences
Subject:05 communication studies
Programme:Communication Studies MSc (60713)
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