April 5, 2024 – The study was prompted by concerns over digital addiction, a problem recognized by the American Psychiatric Association and the World Health Organization as a public health issue. With the Internet becoming an integral part of adolescents’ lives, the potential for addiction has soared, raising alarms about its impact on young people’s development.

Addictive smartphone use refers to a pattern of smartphone behavior that is compulsive, excessive, and difficult to control, despite negative consequences to the user’s daily life, health, and well-being. This phenomenon, while not officially recognized as a disorder in many diagnostic manuals, shares characteristics with other behavioral addictions.

Characteristics of addictive smartphone use include spending an inordinate amount of time on smartphones to the detriment of essential activities, experiencing withdrawal symptoms when unable to use the device, developing a tolerance necessitating increased use for satisfaction, and a persistent inability to cut down usage despite recognizing its negative impacts.

In their new study, Alexandra Maftei and her colleagues at Alexandru Ioan Cuza University aimed to explore the underlying factors contributing to addictive smartphone use, focusing on loneliness, self-esteem, boredom proneness, and the need to belong, to better understand how to prevent and intervene in such behaviors.