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Addict Behav. 2019 Jun 4;99:106013. doi: 10.1016/j.addbeh.2019.06.002. [Epub ahead of print]

Digital detox: The effect of smartphone abstinence on mood, anxiety, and craving.

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Loughborough University, Loughborough, UK; Lancaster University, Lancaster, UK. Electronic address:
Duke-NUS Medical School, Singapore.
Lancaster University, Lancaster, UK.


Whether behavioural addictions should be conceptualised using a similar framework to substance-related addictions remains a topic of considerable debate. Previous literature has developed criteria, which allows any new behavioural addiction to be considered analogous to substance-related addictions. These imply that abstinence from a related object (e.g., smartphones for heavy smartphone users) would lead to mood fluctuations alongside increased levels of anxiety and craving. In a sample of smartphone users, we measured three variables (mood, anxiety, and craving) on four occasions, which included a 24-hour period of smartphone abstinence. Only craving was affected following a short period of abstinence. The results suggest that heavy smartphone usage does not fulfil the criteria required to be considered an addiction. This may have implications for other behavioural addictions.

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