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Smartphone addiction through age and gender during Italian lockdown for COVID-19
* 1 , 2 , 1 , 2 , 2 , 1 , 1
1  Sapienza University of Rome
2  University of Catania



Nomophobia (no-mobile-phobia or Disconnection Syndrome) is the fear of not being able to consult your mobile phone, not being connected or traceable. This is an addiction to excessive smartphone usage related to the constant need to consult it to view notifications and updates. Like other forms of addiction, nomophobia is associated with excessive behaviors that lead to an increasing use of the phone to the point where it cannot do without it and the need to take it with it to any place or circumstance. The fear of not being connected consequently evokes reactions of excessive anxiety with specific physiological related (e.g., breathlessness, sweating, tremor, heart acceleration, sweating etc.).

Nomophobia, however, is not included in anxiety disorders but is part of the pathological addictions to which it responds adequately. In fact, there are many behavioral and emotional analogies with other forms of addiction (including gambling) so the hypothesis that the abuse of the smartphone should be categorized as a real addiction can be accepted.

The dependencies associated with the Internet and technologies that can be defined Dependencies 2.0, include the smartphone. During the Italian lockdown caused by COVID-19, the use of technologies has been the fundamental basis of adaptation for smart working, school and professional training, which has led to a change in the population lifestyle.

Objective: The purpose of this work is to document the level of smartphone dependence that has occurred during the COVID-19 lockdown period.

Material and Methods: The NoMobilePhobia-Questionnaire (NMP-Q) was presented online to 1264 participants between the ages of 15 and 60.

With regard to the selection of participants, approximately between the ages of 15 and 60, we used the method of random numbers: in fact, one participant for every hundred inhabitants was chosen in a randomized way. Finally, it was necessary for all participants to have access to the Internet. These dynamics have been acquitted in order to give us a valid representative sample.

Results: The results show no significant main effects for the two factors taken into account (Gender and Age of participants). However the significant interaction shows that female participants reported on average higher scores on NoMobilePhobia-Questionnaire (NMP-Q) than males , for the younger age group (15 to 44), while for those over the age of 44, the average highest scores were for male participants.

The main effects of the "Sex" factor [F(1,1256)= 3.179 and p=0.75] and "Age_class" [F(4,1253)=1.82 and p=0.12] are not significant; the interaction between the Sex-Age_class factors is significant with F(4,1253) =7.06 and p<.001 and an observed power close to 1 (0.99).

The correlation between the Variable "Score" and the measure of the "Age" was found to be significant (negative) linear relationship (r of Pearson =-.093 and p<.001) considering the whole sample.

Conclusions: One of the "positive" aspects of the COVID-19 pandemic is the use of the Internet and smartphones, and our analysis aimed to document the frequency of use in the Italian context with the NoMobilePhobia-Questionnaire. The results reveal the risk in some parts of the Italian population to develop forms of smartphone dependence, especially in circumstances that prohibit direct social interactions.

Keywords: NoMobile Phobia, smartphone, addiction, lockdown-period