Smartphones have undeniably become an essential part of life. Most people who have access to it might even claim it’s the one thing they can’t live without. However, its considerable effects on physical and mental health have been cause of concern in recent years. Now, a new study has found that smartphone usage can increase and even become unhealthy for people who have obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD).
The study, by students and a professor at the University of Cincinnati Blue Ash College, showed that the use of smartphones can increase and even become unhealthy for people who have OCD, a psychiatric disorder with symptoms related to unwanted and distressing thoughts that can lead to repetitive and disruptive behaviours. To understand the link between problematic smartphone use (PSU) and OCD, the researchers surveyed 400 people, the university’s press release added.
The findings, published online in Current Psychology, found that people with clinically significant levels of OCD are more likely to exhibit PSU compared to those with non-clinical levels of OCD. The results also showed that fear of missing out and boredom influenced the relationship between OCD and PSU.
“There is a theoretical model known as compensatory internet use theory and it suggests that people will compensate for negative emotions by using technology,” study author Alex Holte said in the statement. “Individuals who have OCD desire certainty. So, they might have a fear related to their OCD that they can use their phone to check and confirm or deny that fear.”
The researchers further added that factors such as boredom proneness, fear of missing out and inhibitory anxiety can make people with OCD check and re-check their phone repeatedly.
Previous studies have also shown that excessive use of smartphones comes with worrying health risks. For instance, a December 2023 study published in PLoS One showed that adolescents who used a smartphone for more than four hours every day had higher rates of adverse mental health and substance use. Problematic smartphone use has also been linked to sleep issues, eye-related issues and musculoskeletal issues over the years.