In a groundbreaking exploration, scholars from the University of Granada (UGR) have challenged the prevalent notion of smartphone addiction. Contrary to common belief, their research, published in the esteemed journal Psicothema, asserts that our attachment to mobile phones is deeply rooted in the social interactions these electronic devices facilitate. This study not only supports a theory proposed by Professor Samuel P.L. Veissière in 2018 but also presents the first experimental evidence endorsing his perspective.

The research engaged 86 participants divided into two groups to delve into the role of social interaction in mobile phone use. Lead author Jorge López Puga, from the UGR’s Department of Personality, Evaluation, and Psychological Treatment, detailed the experiment’s design. The “social expectation group” was instructed to send a uniform message to their active contacts about participating in an exciting virtual reality task. Conversely, the control group received no such directive.

Both groups were then asked to turn off notifications, place their phones face down, and immerse themselves in a virtual reality task. Electrodermal activity, an indicator of the autonomic nervous system’s activity and a measure of anxiety levels, was monitored throughout. Results revealed that the social expectation group experienced heightened tension and anxiety during the experiment, suggesting that the emotional connection severed when phone use was restricted.

The study lends empirical support to Professor Veissière’s theory, challenging traditional notions of addiction associated with substance abuse. It posits that our incessant phone use is driven by a fundamental craving for social interaction rather than an addictive behavior. As smartphones have become integral to maintaining and nourishing social relationships, they have given rise to new forms of attachment and dependence.

The implications of the UGR study extend beyond smartphones, emphasizing the significance of human connection in the digital age. It underscores the psychological impact of sudden disconnection from social networks, urging a balanced approach to digital interactions. The study prompts reflection on the evolving role of technology and the importance of maintaining a healthy balance between online and offline connections.

The rise of smartphone dependency, often colloquially termed addiction, is redefined by the UGR study. It posits that the social aspect of mobile phone use, rather than the devices themselves, drives our behavior. The study sheds light on the emotional impact of disconnection, highlighting the discomfort and distress induced by the absence of social interaction, even for a short period.

In conclusion, the UGR’s groundbreaking study challenges prevailing notions of mobile phone addiction, emphasizing the role of social interaction in our attachment to these devices. It calls for a mindful approach to smartphone usage, recognizing their value as tools while emphasizing the importance of face-to-face interactions for psychological well-being.

By Impact Lab