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  • OFAQ preprint

    Rights statement: The final publication is available at Springer via https://doi.org/10.3758/s13428-020-01462-9

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    Available under license: CC BY-NC: Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License

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Development of an Offline-Friend Addiction Questionnaire (O-FAQ): Are most people really social addicts?

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal article

E-pub ahead of print
  • L.P. Satchell
  • D. Fido
  • C.A. Harper
  • H. Shaw
  • B. Davidson
  • David Ellis
  • C.M. Hart
  • R. Jalil
  • A.J. Bartoli
  • L.K. Kaye
  • G.L.J. Lancaster
  • M. Pavetich
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<mark>Journal publication date</mark>24/09/2020
<mark>Journal</mark>Behavior Research Methods
Number of pages8
Publication StatusE-pub ahead of print
Early online date24/09/20
<mark>Original language</mark>English

Abstract

Research that informs policies in regard to public health should be conducted with scientific rigour and integrity. The consequence of this can lead to policies being implemented incorrectly and can remain in place for many years before being reversed or amended. When understanding the effect screen time has on wellbeing, it suffers from the ‘many voices’ problem, whereby academic interest has resulted in a spike of research on the subject. However, high quality research has been diluted by the many studies which use methodologies that are quick and easy to implement. An example of this is online questionnaires that adopt rating scales or ask people to estimate the time they spend on their devices, to get a proxy of people’s engagement with their technologies. However, contemporary research shows that these in fact do not measure usage at all, but instead capture people’s perceptions, worries and appraisals towards their use. Of greater concern, our latest project shows that these measures generate misleading results when linking smartphone use to mental health. To elaborate, when measuring smartphone use directly via objective logs gathered from the device itself, findings showed a person’s daily smartphone pickups or screen time did not predict anxiety, depression, or stress symptoms. However, people’s concerns and worries about their smartphone use, measured via a ‘problematic smartphone use scale’, showed noteworthy effects on mental wellbeing. Alarmingly, many studies confound the latter as a measure of ‘smartphone use’ and conclusions derived from this misconception dominates much of the field. Overall, this makes it difficult to make concrete policy recommendations but can also incorrectly promote the agenda that increased smartphone screen time is a public health crisis. Unfortunately, the same pattern of ‘fast’ research has now become focal during the COVID-19 pandemic. Whereby, academics pursuing high impact research are adopting measures that may be inappropriate for their research question. Whilst some research is time-sensitive, research still requires careful and considerate thought, preferably from existing experts, as it takes time for any academic to become acquainted to a new field research. However, as with the case of screen time, research of higher quality is often not elevated beyond the sea of ‘quick and questionable’ research, which may have attractive conclusions and are rapidly promoted across mass media.