Smartphone apps may harm your health, study warns. Are you addicted to your smartphone apps? If so, you may be putting your health at risk, according to a new study by researchers from UNSW Business School and other institutions.
Nomophobia: The Smartphone App Disorder
The study, published in the Journal of the Association for Information Systems, found that excessive use of smartphone apps can lead to negative health outcomes, such as sleep deprivation, stress, and reduced physical activity. The researchers surveyed 5,842 students from a university in China and measured their smartphone app usage, nomophobia (the fear or anxiety of being without a mobile phone or being unable to use it), and health status.
They found that nomophobia was positively associated with smartphone app usage and negatively associated with health status. In other words, the more people feared being without their phones, the more they used their apps, and the worse their health was.
The study also found that different types of apps had different effects on health. For example, social networking apps and gaming apps were more likely to cause sleep deprivation and stress, while fitness apps and education apps were more likely to promote physical activity and learning.
Dr. Eric Lim, a senior lecturer in the School of Information Systems and Technology Management at UNSW Business School and one of the co-authors of the study, said that smartphone apps have become an integral part of our lives, but we need to be aware of their potential harms.
“We become the willing product in the attention economy, but I do not believe we are better off in this economy even if we become more informed and hyper-plugged into events happening in this world,” he said. “It becomes a vicious cycle where the more we are plugged in, the more we need these apps to provide ever-novel content to keep us hooked to the dopamine they provide.”
Dr. Lim said that smartphone addiction is not officially recognized as a mental health disorder, but it has similarities to gambling addiction, which can have serious consequences for individuals and society.
What To Do About It
He suggested that people should monitor their screen time and limit their exposure to apps that may trigger addictive behaviors or negative emotions. He also recommended that people should use apps that can enhance their well-being, such as meditation apps or mindfulness apps.”Technology is not inherently good or bad; it is how we use it that matters,” he said. “We need to find a healthy balance between our online and offline lives and use technology as a tool to improve ourselves rather than a crutch to escape reality.”