Smartphone addiction is indirectly linked to commitment-phobia, according to new psychology research

People who are “avoidant” when it comes to their relationships might be at higher risk of smartphone addiction, suggests new research published in Computers in Human Behavior.

“As the use of smartphones has surged, concerns about smartphone overuse and addiction have been increasing. We wondered whether insecure attachment would affect smartphone addiction. Especially, we paid attention to avoidant attachment, which had a relatively low interest compared to anxious attachment,” said Eunyoung Koh of Kyungil University, the corresponding author of the study.

“People often focus on the problematic behavior in the use of smartphones and there has been less attention about the mechanism of smartphone addiction.”

People with a high level of avoidant attachment are sometimes described as “commitment-phobic” — they try to avoid intimacy and tend not to trust others.

The study of 376 Korean university students found that avoidant attachment was indirectly linked to smartphone addiction. People with higher levels of avoidant attachment tended to have lower self-esteem and more anxiety, which in turn was associated with smartphone addiction.

“In other words, attachment avoidance can lead to the addictive use of smartphones through low self-esteem and/or anxiety,” Koh said. “In this case, what we should be aware of is not just the behavior of smartphones use as a result. The findings confirmed that psychological factors such as self-esteem, anxiety, and attachment avoidance should be managed to fight smartphone addiction.”

The study has some limitations.

“This study was conducted on university students in Korea,” Koh explained. “Therefore, further research is needed to confirm the consistency of conclusions by diversifying the region, culture, race, etc. In particular, as the average age for children getting their first smartphone is getting younger, it is necessary to investigate whether this mechanism is confirmed at a younger age.”

The study, “Avoidant attachment and smartphone addiction in college students: The mediating effects of anxiety and self-esteem“, was authored by Eunhyang Kim and Eunyoung Koh.