Well-Being and Phones: A Review of the Literature




Hammond, Jordan

Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title



The rise of cell phone technology was synchronous with troubling trends including a rise in depression and suicide attempts and a simultaneous decline in well-being (Twenge & Campbell, 2019). Some believe that a causal relationship exists between phone use and well-being—that is, that phones have caused these concerning shifts. There are reasons to believe that phones could improve well-being, such as increased connectivity, creativity, and efficiency. There are also reasons to believe that phones could harm well-being, from decreased sleep to FOMO or “fear of missing out.” A better understanding of the relationship between phones and well-being can inform best practice behaviors that may make our society happier and healthier.

This thesis is a systematic literature review with the goal of examining all of the empirical data concerning phone use and well-being that has been collected to date. It relies on empirical research from many fields—including psychology, sociology, economics, communication studies, and business—published in peer-reviewed academic journals.

Taken together, this research body is largely equivocal. There are, however, some specific contexts in which phone use is significantly associated with enhanced well-being and other contexts in which phone use is correlated with impaired well-being. Overall, it seems that context is the determining factor. Encouragingly, it seems possible that people can learn how to interact with their phones in an adaptive manner that maximizes the psycho-social benefits while minimizing the potential harm.



LCSH Subject Headings