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PLoS One. 2015 Oct 28;10(10):e0139004. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0139004. eCollection 2015.

Beyond Self-Report: Tools to Compare Estimated and Real-World Smartphone Use.

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Division of Psychology, Nottingham Trent University, Nottingham, United Kingdom.
Department of Psychology, Lancaster University, Lancaster, United Kingdom; School of Psychology, University of Lincoln, Lincoln, United Kingdom.
School of Psychology, University of Lincoln, Lincoln, United Kingdom.
Faculty of Business and Law, University of the West of England, Bristol, United Kingdom.


Psychologists typically rely on self-report data when quantifying mobile phone usage, despite little evidence of its validity. In this paper we explore the accuracy of using self-reported estimates when compared with actual smartphone use. We also include source code to process and visualise these data. We compared 23 participants' actual smartphone use over a two-week period with self-reported estimates and the Mobile Phone Problem Use Scale. Our results indicate that estimated time spent using a smartphone may be an adequate measure of use, unless a greater resolution of data are required. Estimates concerning the number of times an individual used their phone across a typical day did not correlate with actual smartphone use. Neither estimated duration nor number of uses correlated with the Mobile Phone Problem Use Scale. We conclude that estimated smartphone use should be interpreted with caution in psychological research.

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