How smartphone use affects our social relationships

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smartphone use

It is common that people spend hours each day using their smartphones. A common motivation for this behavior is the maintenance of social relations.

However, too much smartphone use (e.g., playing mobile games and watching videos) can also harm our social relationships.

In a recent study published in Computers in Human Behavior, researchers examine how smartphone can change people’s social relationships.

Kent State University led the study. Researchers conducted a survey that involved 493 college students. Students reported their smartphone use behaviors, their relationship with peer, and their relationship with parents.

The finding showed that in male students, calling, texting, and total daily use time were not related to relationship with parents or peer. Nevertheless, problematic use was negatively related to parent and peer attachment: students had less communication with parents and friends and trusted them less.

In female students, calling was positively related to parental attachment, and texting was positively related to peer attachment. This suggests that female students use smartphone to maintain and improve social relationships. However, problematic use was negatively related to peer and parental attachment: students showed less communication and trust.

Researchers suggest that smartphones can play double roles in our social relationships. Some behaviors, such as calling and texting, can help maintain relationships with family and friends; other behaviors, like excessive gaming, may isolate the smartphone users from parents and peer.

Importantly, men and women use smartphones in different ways. Smartphones may have more social value for women compared to men, and women may be better at using it to improve existing social relationships.

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Citation: Lepp A, et al. (2016). College students’ cell phone use and attachment to parents and peers. Computers in Human Behavior, 64: 401-408. DOI: 10.1016/j.chb.2016.07.021.
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