How smartphone usage correlates with social anxiety and loneliness

Yusong Gao, Ang Li, Tingshao Zhu, Xiaoqian Liu, Xingyun Liu
2016 PeerJ  
Introduction:Early detection of social anxiety and loneliness might be useful to prevent substantial impairment in personal relationships. Understanding the way people use smartphones can be beneficial for implementing an early detection of social anxiety and loneliness. This paper examines different types of smartphone usage and their relationships with people with different individual levels of social anxiety or loneliness.Methods:A total of 127 Android smartphone volunteers participated in
more » ... is study, all of which have agreed to install an application (MobileSens) on their smartphones, which can record user's smartphone usage behaviors and upload the data into the server. They were instructed to complete an online survey, including the Interaction Anxiousness Scale (IAS) and the University of California Los Angeles Loneliness Scale (UCLA-LS). We then separated participants into three groups (high, middle and low) based on their scores of IAS and UCLA-LS, respectively. Finally, we acquired digital records of smartphone usage from MobileSens and examined the differences in 105 types of smartphone usage behaviors between high-score and low-score group of IAS/UCLA-LS.Results:Individuals with different scores on social anxiety or loneliness might use smartphones in different ways. For social anxiety, compared with users in low-score group, users in high-score group had less number of phone calls (incoming and outgoing) (Mann-Whitney U= 282.50∼409.00,p< 0.05), sent and received less number of text messages in the afternoon (Mann-Whitney U= 391.50∼411.50,p< 0.05), used health & fitness apps more frequently (Mann-Whitney U= 493.00,p< 0.05) and used camera apps less frequently (Mann-Whitney U= 472.00,p< 0.05). For loneliness, users in low-score group, users in high-score group had less number of phone calls (incoming and outgoing) (Mann-Whitney U= 305.00∼407.50,p< 0.05) and used following apps more frequently: health & fitness (Mann-Whitney U= 510.00,p< 0.05), system (Mann-Whitney U= 314.00,p< 0.01), phone beautify (Mann-Whitney U= 385.00,p< 0.05), web browser (Mann-Whitney U= 416.00,p< 0.05) and social media (RenRen) (Mann-Whitney >U= 388.50,p< 0.01).Discussion:The results show that individuals with social anxiety or loneliness receive less incoming calls and use healthy applications more frequently, but they do not show differences in outgoing-call-related features. Individuals with higher levels of social anxiety also receive less SMSs and use camera apps less frequently, while lonely individuals tend to use system, beautify, browser and social media (RenRen) apps more frequently.Conclusion:This paper finds that there exists certain correlation among smartphone usage and social anxiety and loneliness. The result may be useful to improve social interaction for those who lack social interaction in daily lives and may be insightful for recognizing individual levels of social anxiety and loneliness through smartphone usage behaviors.
doi:10.7717/peerj.2197 pmid:27478700 pmcid:PMC4950540 fatcat:cnobeurxlnatraz44ps7utunum