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Reducing smartphone screen time may improve well-being, study finds

Consumers don’t need to totally ditch their phones, but cutting back can be beneficial

Woman using smartphone
Photo (c) Stefania Pelfini, La Waziya Photography - Getty Images
A new study conducted by researchers from Ruhr University explored how consumers’ smartphone use may affect their health. According to their findings, reducing time spent on smartphones over the long term can work to improve consumers’ overall well-being

“The smartphone is both a blessing and a curse,” said researcher Julia Brailovskaia. “It’s not necessary to completely give up the smartphone to feel better. There may be an optimal daily usage time.” 

Limiting smartphone use

The researchers divided over 600 participants into three groups for the study. One group of participants didn’t use their phones at all for one week, a second group reduced their smartphone use by one hour each day, and a third group didn’t change their behavior with their phones. The researchers then interviewed the participants one month and four months later to learn about their lifestyles, mental health, and their life satisfaction. 

Ultimately, the researchers learned that cutting back on time spent on smartphones was beneficial. The participants reported less anxiety and depression symptoms and an overall healthier lifestyle. Spending less time on smartphones led to more physical activity and less cigarette smoking.

“We found that both completely giving up the smartphone and reducing its daily use by one hour had positive effects on the lifestyle and well-being of the participants,” said Brailovskaia. “In the group who reduced use, these effects even lasted longer and were thus more stable than in the abstinence group.” 

The researchers explained that there isn’t a set rule for consumers when it comes to how much time they should spend on their phones. The study showed that the group that cut back smartphone use by one hour each day during the study had limited their screen time by about 45 minutes within the first four months of the study. 

The team hopes consumers understand that they don’t need to stop using their smartphones entirely. Instead, cutting back on smartphone use can help consumers long-term. 

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