Risk factors for smartphone overuse among university students in Malaysia

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Smartphones are valuable and have become a necessity because of their multifunctionality. However, their usefulness has increasingly led to the pervasive dependence on them, raising several concerns regarding their negative impact. As smartphone usage continues to rise across the globe, Malaysia too has seen a rapid increase, with 30.41 million users in 2018, and an estimated 33.46 million users by 2025 (Statistica in Smartphone users in Malaysia 2015–2025, 2021). Because of the negative psychological impacts, identifying the risk factors among youths especially is crucial, as smartphone usage is the highest among this demographic (HPUS Malaysia, 2017). The current study seeks to examine a causal model of smartphone overuse grounded in the reluctance to miss important information, and its mediating effect in the relationships between social connectedness and loneliness with smartphone overuse. Three hundred and eighty-eight university students in Malaysia (mean age = 20.14; SD = 1.55) were assessed on their smartphone usage, loneliness, social connectedness and fear of missing out. Screening for low- and high-risk smartphone usage, 23.7% fell into the high-risk group. The high-risk group scored significantly higher than the low-risk group on loneliness and fear of missing out, and significantly lower on social connectedness. All three constructs predicted smartphone use, and fear of missing out fully mediated the relationships between loneliness and social connectedness, with smartphone use. These findings shed light on the complex relationship between the need to persistently stay connected with others, which has severe implications for relationships, feelings of connectedness, loneliness and overall feelings of satisfaction.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationUnderstanding Psychology in the Context of Relationship, Community, Workplace and Culture
EditorsSurendra Kumar Sia, Lauren S. Crane, Ajay K. Jain, Shabana Bano
Place of PublicationSingapore Singapore
Number of pages15
ISBN (Electronic)9789811926938
ISBN (Print)9789811926921
Publication statusPublished - 2022


  • Smartphone overuse, loneliness, social connectedness, fear of missing out, anxiety

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