Smartphones are now equipped with a dazzling array of
entertainments, using state-of-the-art graphics and algorithms. A quick pan
around any public square thesedays, will reliably reveal young adults glued to
their mobile devices.
It’s tempting to believe they might be using the technology
to further work or school objectives; probably some of them are. But research
suggests they are most often using their phones for gaming and entertainment.
A new study from Kent State University (USA) aims to better
understand how young adult smartphone users experience daily leisure in the
context of this new social phenomenon. The researchers surveyed a random sample of 454 college
students, measuring total daily smartphone use, personality type and
subjective experience of daily leisure.
The students were then divided into groups, based on similar
patterns of smartphone use and personality type. Each group’s experience of
daily leisure was then compared. Three distinct types of smartphone users emerged: low-use ‘extroverts’, low-use ‘introverts’ and a high-use group.
The high-use group averaged more than ten hours phone use
per day and accounted for approximately 25% of the sample. Perhaps
unsurprisingly, particpants in this group reported a diminished experience of
daily leisure. They experienced significantly more ‘leisure distress’ – that
is, feeling uptight, stressed and anxious during free time. Andrew Lepp, lead researcher, commenting on the findings
“The high-frequency cell phone user may not have the
leisure skills necessary to creatively fill their free time with intrinsically
rewarding activities, For such people, the ever-present smartphone may provide
an easy, but less satisfying and more stressful, means of filling their
By contrast, the low-use extrovert group averaged about
three hours of smartphone use per day and experienced lower levels of leisure
distress. They were more likely to actively engage in activities during their
It seems evident from this study (if not from common sense)
that being constantly connected to your phone is unlikely to enhance your
experience of leisure. No matter what you’re doing on your phone, you’re doing
something – arguably to distract yourself from uncomfortable feelings, as the findings suggest. There’s a word that describes activities employed to
distract onseself from uncomfortable feelings – addiction.
Written by Jacqui Hogan