Perspectives and Experiences of Smartphone Overuse among University Students in Umm Al-Qura University (UQU), Saudi Arabia: A Qualitative Analysis

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International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health


Smartphone overuse and addiction is a growing concern worldwide. However, there are limited studies about smartphone addiction and its impacts on university students in Saudi Arabia. This qualitative study aimed to elicit students’ and university staff’s perspectives and experiences about smartphone overuse/addiction in Umm Al-Qura University (UQU), Saudi Arabia. Fifteen undergraduate students and 18 university staff (13 lecturers and five professionals) were recruited for the purpose of this study. The study data were collected using semi-structured interviews and ana-lysed using thematic analysis. The qualitative data comprising 33 participants (students and staff) identified four major themes including the perception of smartphone use; causes of smartphone overuse; negative impacts of smartphone overuse; and strategies to reduce the overuse of smartphone. The overall findings confirmed that students and staff alike held both positive and negative perceptions about using a smartphone. Potential factors leading to smartphone overuse included personal factors (extended free time and low self-confidence, irresponsibility/escaping certain social gatherings/passing the time); smartphone factors (reasonable price, attractive advertise-ments (ads), and engaging smartphone Apps); and social factors (social pressure and fear of losing a connection). The main negative impacts of smartphone overuse were found to be related to low academic productivity, poor physical health (body pain, lack of sleep, and low exercise), compro-mised mental well-being (stress and negative emotions), and decreased socialisation (social isolation and a reduction in face-to-face communication). Our findings suggested that awareness cam-paigns about smartphone overuse, promoting family and social events, encouraging physical activ-ities, and limiting internet use can reduce smartphone usage among university students. This find-ing has significant implications for decision-makers.

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