Academic journal article Social Behavior and Personality: an international journal

Sociable People Beware? Investigating Smartphone versus Nonsmartphone Dependency Symptoms among Young Singaporeans

Academic journal article Social Behavior and Personality: an international journal

Sociable People Beware? Investigating Smartphone versus Nonsmartphone Dependency Symptoms among Young Singaporeans

Article excerpt

Mobile phones have become the most prevalent communication devices, with global mobile cellular penetration at 96% of the population (International Telecommunications Union, 2014). People consciously use mobile phones with various levels of dependency (Carbonell, Oberst, & Beranuy, 2013), and heavily reliant users show pathological symptoms of mobile addiction and maladaptive behavior (Leung, 2008b). Instead of presuming mobile addiction, in this study we investigated mobile dependency as a continuum and defined it as a relationship in which individuals attain goals, such as social connectivity, through reliance on using mobile activities (Park, Kim, Shon, & Shim, 2013).

Sociability, in the context of information technology use, is defined as a human's desire to socialize with others through mediated technologies (Junglas, Goel, Abraham, & Ives, 2013). It is a crucial psychological trait associated with users' dependence on mobile technologies (Igarashi, Motoyoshi, Takai, & Yoshida, 2008). Rice and Hagen (2010) argue that young people use mobile communication to keep perpetual contact with social networks, thereby causing their mobile dependency. As smartphones with identifiable operating systems enable advanced capabilities and extend functionalities with third party applications (Theoharidou, Mylonas, & Gritzalis, 2012), their adoption is increasing worldwide (Danova, 2015). According to a multiscreen study conducted by Google (2012), smartphones with mobile Internet services enhance users' social connectivity and cross-screen interactions. Constant social connection via smartphones has become a norm for digital-savvy young users (Hyman, 2013).

Despite a climate of social alarm caused by the fact that young people are prone to losing self-control in using mobile phones (Igarashi et al., 2008; Leung, 2007), relatively little research regarding smartphone dependency has been conducted. As smartphones' advanced features are likely to increase users' attachment, it seemed worthwhile to us to compare smartphones with nonsmartphones in regard to causing symptoms of mobile dependency. To fill the research gap, we examined differences between smartphone and nonsmartphone dependency symptoms, and their relationships to sociability and mobile dependency.

Literature Review and Hypotheses

According to Chóliz (2010), the social and affective functions of mobile phones cause uncontrolled, inappropriate, or excessive phone use, resulting in negative outcomes (e.g., disruption to school work, costly phone bills, and conflicts with parents; Leung, 2008b). Heavy reliance on mobile phones, turning into addiction, led to college students developing severe dependency symptoms (Rice & Hagen, 2010), including an inability to control craving, feeling anxious and lost, a tendency toward withdrawal/escape, and productivity loss (Leung, 2008a).

Excessive messaging is the key determinant resulting in nonsmartphone dependency among young people (Igarashi et al., 2008; Perry & Lee, 2007). In many prior studies, the results show frequent use of texting was positively related to mobile addiction (e.g., Leung, 2007; Park, Hwang, & Huh, 2010; Perry & Lee, 2007). Popular smartphone activities like mobile Internet and mobile instant messages (MIM) raise recent concerns about youths' problematic phone use among young people (Sultan, 2014). We considered it important to examine the relationship between mobile activities and dependency symptoms as well as to compare results for smartphone users and nonsmartphone users. Hence, we proposed the following hypotheses:

Hypothesis 1: Mobile phone users who use mobile Internet or text messages- including SMS and MIM-more often will show a higher level of mobile dependency than will those who use these activities less.

Hypothesis 2: Smartphone users who use mobile Internet or text messages- including SMS and MIM-will show higher levels of mobile dependency and more symptoms than will nonsmartphone users. …

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