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

Thomas Wilcockson, Ashley Osborne, David Ellis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

51 Citations (SciVal)


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.
Original languageEnglish
JournalAddictive Behaviors
Early online date4 Jun 2019
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2019

Bibliographical note

This is the author’s version of a work that was accepted for publication in Addictive Behaviors. Changes resulting from the publishing process, such as peer review, editing, corrections, structural formatting, and other quality control mechanisms may not be reflected in this document. Changes may have been made to this work since it was submitted for publication. A definitive version was subsequently published in Addictive Behaviors, 99, 2019 DOI: 10.1016/j.addbeh.2019.06.002

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