Problematic use of the internet, smartphone, and SMS among adults: shared and unique predictors

Argyroula Kalaitzaki, Stéphanie Laconi, George Tsouvelas


Background: Although a surge of interest in examining the co‐occurrence of problematic use of different technology means has recently emerged, findings are still inconclusive. This web-based survey aimed at examining whether (a) personality traits, coping strategies, and sociodemographics are associated with problematic use of the internet, smartphone, and SMS among Greek users and (b) personality traits mediate the relationship between maladaptive coping strategies and problematic use of the three media. Study design: A cross-sectional study. Method: A convenience and snowball sample of 1,016 participants (84.4% female, mean age 30.3 years) completed the Problematic Internet Use Questionnaire-9 (PIUQ-9), the Mobile Phone Problem Use Scale (MPPUS), the Self-Perception of Text Message Dependency Scale (STDS), the Personality Diagnostic Questionnaire 4+ (PDQ-4+), and the Brief Coping Orientation to Problems Experienced Inventory (COPE). Results: Shared predictors between the three problematic uses were younger age and low educational level, the coping strategy of substance use, and the narcissistic, avoidant, and dependent personality disorders. The coping strategies of self‒distraction and behavioral disengagement were common between the problematic users of the internet and smartphone. Schizoid traits predicted problematic smartphone users, paranoid traits predicted problematic internet users, and histrionic traits predicted problematic SMS users. Cluster C personality disorders fully mediated the relationship between maladaptive coping strategies and problematic use of technology-based tools, thus suggesting their amplifying role in this relationship. Conclusions: Addressing shared factors between the three groups of problematic users, such as teaching adaptive coping strategies, should be the aim of effective and cost-saving treatment and preventive efforts.


overuse; addiction; excessive use; dependence; personality disorders.

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