Reduced smartphone use more beneficial to wellbeing than total abstinence

April 22, 2022
Reduced smartphone use more beneficial to wellbeing than total abstinence

Spending days glued to our smartphone screens is linked to a host of problems such as less physical activity, weight gain, neck pain, and even addiction-like behaviour. German researchers at Ruhr-Universität Bochum (RUB) suggest reducing the usage of smartphones instead of a complete smartphone abstinence for better lifestyle habits and improved wellbeing.

Privat-Dozentin Dr. Julia Brailovskaia and her team at the Mental Health Research and Treatment Center at RUB wanted to know: how much smartphone is good for us?

They recruited over 600 people for their study and divided them randomly into three groups to compare how participants would fare without their smartphones completely for a week, with reduced daily use by one hour, or with regular use. According to data, some 200 people put their smartphone completely aside for a week; 226 reduced the amount of time they used their smartphone by one hour a day; 193 people didn’t change anything in their behaviour.

The researchers interviewed all participants about their lifestyle habits and well-being immediately after the intervention, and followed up one month and four months later.

“We found that both completely giving up the smartphone and reducing its daily use by one hour had positive effects on the lifestyle and well-being of the participants,” said Dr. Brailovskaia. “[But] in the group who reduced use, these effects even lasted longer and were thus more stable than in the abstinence group.”

The one-week intervention changed the participants’ usage habits in the long term – even four months after the end of the experiment, the members of the abstinence group used their smartphone on average 38 minutes less per day than before. The group who had spent one hour less per day with the smartphone during the experiment used it as much as 45 minutes less per day after four months than before. At the same time, life satisfaction and time spent being physically active increased, while symptoms of depression and anxiety as well as nicotine consumption decreased.

“It’s not necessary to completely give up the smartphone to feel better,” concluded Dr. Brailovskaia. “There may be an optimal daily usage time.”

Read: Smartphone breaks do not alleviate boredom or fatigue

Category: Education, Features

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