Nearly 40% Of University Students Addicted To Smartphones, Study Finds | TOTUM
Ben HaywardMarch 2nd
2021

Nearly 40% of university students are addicted to their smartphones, and as a result have trouble sleeping, a new study has found. 

The study of 1,043 students aged 18-30 at King’s College London found that 406 (38.9%) displayed symptoms of smartphone addiction, while over two-thirds (68.7%) of those found two be addicted had trouble sleeping, compared with 57.1% of those who were not.

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Participants were judged to be addicts if they could not control how long they spent on their phone, felt distressed when they could not access it, or neglected other, more meaningful parts of their life because they were busy on their device, reports the Guardian. 

Researchers found that these most likely to be addicted were the youngest participants in the study and the findings - published in the journal Frontiers in Psychiatry - have renewed concerns that over use of smartphones is linked to difficulty sleeping for some users. 

Dr Ben Carter, a co-author of the paper and senior lecturer at the Institute of Psychology, Psychiatry and Neuroscience at King’s, said: “Our study provides further support to the growing body of evidence that smartphone ‘addiction’ has a negative impact on sleep.

“The association is still significant even after adjusting for daily screen time use.”

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However, the study’s authors say that although the findings show that the length of time people spend using their device is a significant predictor of addiction, there are other factors to consider. 

The time at which someone put their phone down for the last time before trying to sleep was found to be important, with 23.8% of those that stopped using their device more than an hour before bedtime, exhibiting addiction, compared to 42% of those stopping less than half an hour before going to bed. 

42.2% of those under 21 were found to be addicted, compared to 34.2% of those in the 22-25 age bracket and just 28% of those aged 26 or over.

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Dr Bernadka Dubicka, the chair of the faculty of child and adolescent psychiatry at the Royal College of Psychiatrists, said: “The negative impact of smartphone use on sleep is very concerning from a mental health perspective. Many young people have struggled with their sleep and mental health during this pandemic and poor quality or insufficient sleep can be both a symptom and a cause of mental health problems.

“Regular smartphone use before bed, which may be seen in ‘smartphone addiction’, can significantly affect sleep. Keeping a good sleep routine is vital for young people’s health and wellbeing and young people should try to limit their smartphone use late at night, for example, by charging their phone in a different room to their bedroom.”

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