Digital Addiction: Increased Loneliness, Anxiety, and Depression


  • Erik Peper San Francisco State University
  • Richard Harvey San Francisco State University



digital addiction, smartphones, depression, loneliness, multitasking


Digital addiction is defined by the American Society for Addiction Medicine (ASAM) as well as the American Psychiatric Association (APA) as “… a primary, chronic disease of brain reward, motivation, memory, and related circuitry.  Dysfunction in these circuits leads to characteristic biological, psychological, social, and spiritual manifestations.  This is reflected in an individual pathologically pursuing reward and/or relief by substance use and other behaviors…” with examples such a such as internet gaming or similar behaviors.  Symptoms of digital addiction such as increased loneliness (also called “phoneliness”), anxiety, and depression were observed in a sample of university undergraduates who completed a survey about smartphone use during and outside of class.  Other observations included observations of “iNeck” (poor) posture as well as how multitasking/semitasking was prevalent in the sample.  Implications of continued digital addition are discussed.

Author Biographies

Erik Peper, San Francisco State University

Professor Institute for Holistic Health Studies Department of Health Education

Richard Harvey, San Francisco State University

Department of Health Education

Associate Professor


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