A lot of people experience hitches in their social lives, no thanks to their excessive usage of smartphones. While some get agitated whenever they are not with their smartphones, the smartphone has interfered with the vital daily activities of some others.
There are several smartphone features that make it a bit difficult to stay away from the device. Smartphones contain games, instant messaging app and in a way brings some level of satisfaction or pleasure to its users. However, a study reveals that the wide range of activities and functions available on a smartphone has occasioned the possibility of a phenomenon called smartphone addiction.
Chongyang Chen and some of his colleagues undertook a study to examine the motivation underlying this behavior. The researchers defined the behavior as a maladaptive dependency on smartphone usage and obsessive-compulsive use of smartphones.
According to them, users who have this condition will likely experience any or all of the following:
1. The smartphone usage may inhibit the smooth running of important daily activities, such as their work.
2. Such persons find it difficult to voluntarily reduce their device usage time.
3. The smartphone becomes their lives’ most vital feature.
4. Whenever they are unable to make use of their devices, they have negative feelings.
The research addressed two important questions. First is “what exactly motivates the harmful pattern that characterizes the usage of smartphone?” The second is: “Considering that gender differences exist in other behaviors related to the use of technology, e.g. use of Facebook, are there also differences between how the genders use the smartphone?”
They carried out a survey online on 384 participants who were largely within the age range of 18 to 30. They utilized five different items to determine the degrees of addiction feeling, and that included difficulty in controlling smartphone use and feeling of agitation when not with the smartphone.
In addition, they used fifteen items for the measurement of these five motivators.
The five motivators include:
1. Perceived Enjoyment, i.e. I find the usage of my smartphone enjoyable.
2. A social relationship, i.e. I use my device to help me socially interact with other people.
3. Mood regulation, i.e. I use my device to take my mind off my worries
4. Pastime, i.e. I use my device so as to avoid getting bored.
5. Conformity, i.e. my reason for using my smartphone is so my friends can like me.
The research found in existence a relationship with these five motivators. According to them, that implied that if people got the motivation to make use of their smartphones for any of those purposes, there was the likelihood that they would develop the addictive behavioral pattern. However, they found that, in general, the strongest of relationships existed between the behavior and using the smartphone to get mind off their worries or whenever they were upset.
They also found that using the smartphone to establish social interactions with others or to find out what others were up to was unrelated.
The study also found that the effects of pastime and perceived enjoyment had a stronger relationship to smartphone addiction for the female gender, while conformity had a close relationship with the males. This implied that while the females emphasized more on the intrinsic motives, the males placed more focus on extrinsic ones and that clearly shows the existence of differences between the genders motives.
In addition, the study’s findings appear to point to the fact that a large part of the motivations is in a way related to different factors like conformity or mood regulation.
These motives are often regarded as negative reinforcements, i.e. a behavior that increases in an instance when any negative outcome is halted. These negative reinforcements seem to be more than the positive reinforcements that are social-relationship based. There is a positive reinforcement when a behavior increases after a positive outcome is presented.
In 2013, Cheung, and other colleagues also highlighted the existence of a similar motivation pattern in the compulsive usage of Facebook. This motive is in contrast with the positive reinforcement motivation underlying cigarette or alcohol addiction. In 2003, Carney and Copeland in a study also found that relaxation and mood enhancement which are positive reinforcements were the core motivators for those who smoke.
In conclusion, the findings of this study reveal that the motivation behind the smartphone addiction is quite complex. It also shows that gender difference accounts for different motivation just as it does for other kinds of addictive behavioral patterns.