Do Chinese and British university students use smartphones differently? A cross-cultural mixed methods study

Zeyang Yang, Kathryn Asbury, Mark Griffiths

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background and aims: Although an increasing number of studies have focused on problematic smartphone use and smartphone addiction, few of these studies have employed both quantitative and qualitative methods or employed a cross-cultural design. A limited number of studies have compared eastern and western groups. The present study investigates the prevalence and causes of problematic smartphone use among Chinese and British undergraduates.
Methods: A sample of n=778 undergraduates participated in this study (475 Chinese students and 303 British students). Students’ scores on a self-report measure of problematic smartphone use were compared across country and gender. Qualitative data were analyzed using the framework approach.
Results: Chinese undergraduates reported significantly higher levels of PSU than British undergraduates, with a medium to large effect size. Females scored significantly higher than males in both groups. Chinese students reported that the sharp transition from a strictly managed high school life to a freer university life affected their level of smartphone use.
Conclusions: This study indicates the importance of considering cultural and educational backgrounds when conducting studies on problematic smartphone use.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-14
Number of pages14
JournalInternational Journal of Mental Health and Addiction
Early online date6 Nov 2018
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 6 Nov 2018

Bibliographical note

© The Author(s) 2018


  • problematic smartphone use
  • student smartphone use
  • mixed methods
  • cross-cultural
  • addiction

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