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Journal of Child and Family Studies

https://doi.org/10.1007/s10826-018-01323-2

ORIGINAL PAPER

Mobile Phone Addiction and Adolescents’ Anxiety and Depression:


The Moderating Role of Mindfulness
Xiujuan Yang1,2 Zongkui Zhou1,2 Qingqi Liu1,2 Cuiying Fan1,2
● ● ●

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2019

Abstract
Objectives Prior studies have documented that mobile phone addiction is linked to anxiety and depression. However, the
underlying processes that might moderate these associations remain unclear. The present research tested whether mind-
fulness moderated the relations between mobile phone addiction and both anxiety and depression in adolescents.
Methods A sample of 1258 high school students (mean age = 16.76, SD = .94) in China completed the measures regarding
their mobile phone addiction, anxiety, depression, and mindfulness.
Results Results of multiple regression analyses indicated that after controlling for gender and grade, mobile phone addiction
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was positively associated with adolescents’ anxiety and depression. In addition, the relationships between mobile phone
addiction and both anxiety and depression were moderated by mindfulness, in that they were stronger for adolescents with
lower levels of mindfulness.
Conclusions The present research contributes to a deeper understanding of whether the links between mobile phone
addiction and mental health problems (i.e., anxiety, depression) are moderated by important personality traits such as
mindfulness. Limitations and research implications of these findings are discussed.
Keywords Mobile phone addiction Mindfulness Anxiety Depression Adolescents
● ● ● ●

Mobile phones, especially smartphones, are ubiquitous in With the prevalence of mobile phones, repetitive and
modern society. As an excellent carrier of mobile Internet compulsive mobile phone use (i.e., mobile phone addiction)
technology, mobile phone can realize multiple functions for has become a major public concern (Chen et al. 2016; Lepp
socializing, entertainment, and shopping. Mobile phone use et al. 2014). As a type of technological addiction (i.e., non-
has grown dramatically worldwide in recent years. For chemical behavioral addiction which involves human-
instance, in China, about 1.55 billion mobile phone sub- machine interaction; Kuss and Billieux 2016), mobile
scriptions had been registered as of September 2018 phone addiction can be conceptualized as the excessive and
(Statista 2018). According to the 42nd Statistical Report on compulsive use of mobile phones, which is associated with
Internet Development released by China Internet Network negative consequences in various social, behavioral, and
Information Center (2018), the number of Chinese mobile affective aspects (Billieux 2012; Jun 2016). Mobile phone
Internet users had amounted to 788 million by the end of addiction is characterized by the key symptoms of obsessive
June 2018, and mobile netizens had accounted for 98.3% of thoughts about mobile phones (craving), spending more and
the total netizen population. more time on mobile phones in spite of high economic costs
(tolerance), experiencing anxiety when mobile phones are
unavailable (withdrawal), and inability to control or cease
mobile phone use and no longer having fun in other
activities that used to be enjoyable (Kim et al. 2015). It is
* Zongkui Zhou worth noting that utilizing the term “mobile phone addic-
zhouzk@mail.ccnu.edu.cn
tion” to refer to excessive or uncontrolled use of mobile
1
Key Laboratory of Adolescent Cyberpsychology and Behavior phones (i.e., inability to regulate one’s overuse of mobile
(CCNU), Ministry of Education, 430079 Wuhan, China phones) is controversial (Billieux et al. 2015; Kardefelt-
2
School of Psychology, Central China Normal University, NO.152 Winther et al. 2017; Kim et al. 2015). Specifically, although
Luoyu Road, 430079 Wuhan, China excessive or uncontrolled use of mobile phones may include
Journal of Child and Family Studies

symptoms (e.g., tolerance, withdrawal) that resemble those coping style (i.e., mobile phone addiction) is likely to
observed with behavioral addiction (i.e., a repeated beha- reduce their social skills and aggravate the symptoms of
vior lasting over a significant period of time and leading to anxiety (Li et al. 2017). Chen et al. (2016) also revealed that
significant harm or distress; Kardefelt-Winther et al. 2017), in comparison to non-addicts, mobile phone addicts were
the neurobiological and behavioral similarities between more inclined to have interpersonal problems and experi-
mobile phone addiction and other types of recognized ence social anxiety and depression. There is some evidence
addictive behaviors are still under debate (Billieux et al. that the relationship between mobile phone addiction and
2015). Moreover, the precise incidence, prevalence, and mental health problems might be causal. A 3-year long-
symptomatology of mobile phone addiction remain a matter itudinal study documented that mobile phone addiction in
of controversy (Billieux et al. 2015; Lopez-Fernandez et al. 8th grade was a significant predictor of depressive symp-
2017). Therefore, the use of such a term as mobile phone toms in 10th grade (Jun 2016).
addiction (e.g., Chen et al. 2016; Hawi and Samaha 2016; The associations between mobile phone addiction and
Lian et al. 2016; Liu et al. 2017) remains tentative. mental health problems (e.g., anxiety and depression) may
There is growing evidence identifying that adolescents be especially strong among adolescents. Specifically,
are at high risk for mobile phone addiction (He et al. 2012). adolescents experience faster physiological growth but
In the transitional period from childhood to adulthood, slower psychological development in the transition per-
adolescents experience rapid changes in physiological, iod, which leads to relatively low levels of psychological
mental, and cognitive functions, and they are likely to maturity. In addition, adolescents are exposed to com-
engage in a number of risky behaviors (e.g., substance use) pounded stressors such as substantial stress from their
for exploration and emotional relief (Hessler and Katz academic and daily lives (Bluth and Blanton 2014; Frison
2010). With the sophistication and multi-functionality of and Eggermont 2015). These unfavorable internal (i.e.,
mobile phone technology, individuals have easy access to psychological immaturity) and external factors (i.e.,
communication, socialization, entertainment, and self- exposure to multiple stressors) may intensify adolescents’
presentation (Khang et al. 2013; Lian et al. 2016; Wang vulnerability to mental health problems when they are
et al. 2015). These features of mobile phone technology confronted with negative experiences (e.g., mobile phone
might be avenues for adolescents’ exploration and risk addiction).
taking. In this context, adolescents show high rates of Although there is considerable research on the links
dependence on mobile phones, and the incidence rate of between mobile phone addiction and mental health pro-
mobile phone addiction is substantial among adolescents blems (Chen et al. 2016; Jun 2016; Lepp et al. 2014; Merlo
(Lopez-Fernandez et al. 2014; Soni et al. 2017). Research 2008), there is little research on factors that might lessen or
from multiple countries indicated that the proportion of amplify these associations (i.e., moderation). That is, it
addictive mobile phone users among adolescents was remains unclear under what conditions mobile phone
beyond 30% (He et al. 2012). Under such severe circum- addiction is associated with anxiety and depression or when
stances, the harmful influences of mobile phone addiction the relations between mobile phone addiction and anxiety
on adolescents’ intrapersonal development (e.g., anxiety, and depression are more potent. According to diathesis-
depression) and interpersonal relationships (e.g., social stress theories (Monroe and Simons 1991), individuals with
relationships with friends and teachers) have aroused certain traits will react differently to stressful events and
researchers’ common concern (Lee et al. 2016; Seo et al. negative experiences, and thus the effects of stress and
2016; Soni et al. 2017). adversity may vary from person to person. Given that
Overuse of mobile phones has been found to be asso- mobile phone addiction is characterized in part by unplea-
ciated with a number of psychosocial adjustment problems, sant psychological experience (e.g., craving, loss of control)
including reduced mental health, poor work performance, and generally contributes to unfavorable consequences
and interpersonal difficulties (He et al. 2012; Lepp et al. (Chen et al. 2016; Kim et al. 2015; Lepp et al. 2014), it can
2014; Merlo 2008). Among these unfavorable outcomes be considered as a stressful condition or negative experience
associated with mobile phone addiction, anxiety and for individuals. However, it is possible that not all people
depression have gained researchers’ increasing attention are equally influenced by mobile phone addiction, and
(Chen et al. 2016; Merlo 2008). Specifically, addictive personality is one factor that may be associated with such
mobile phone users generally experience great anxiety inter-individual variability in the effects of mobile phone
owing to an overwhelming obligation to maintain social ties addiction on mental health. Therefore, it is of great impor-
via mobile phones (Lepp et al. 2014; Merlo 2008). Espe- tance to investigate the personality traits that are conducive
cially for individuals who are indulged in mobile phones as to alleviating the potential effects of mobile phone addiction
a way of relieving their realistic problems, the avoidant on adolescent’ anxiety and depression.
Journal of Child and Family Studies

Mindfulness is a personality trait that has been identified depressed mood was alleviated for individuals with high
as a significant protective factor against external stress or mindfulness. A study by Zhou et al. (2017) showed that the
adversity (Calvete et al. 2017; Dixon and Overall 2016; relationship between bullying victimization and depression
Zhou et al. 2017). Mindfulness refers to a conscious mental became weaker with increases in mindfulness.
state characterized by focusing on present-moment experi- These findings all revealed the protective role of mind-
ences (including internal and external stimuli) without fulness in promoting more adaptive reactions to stress or
judgement or reaction (Brown and Ryan 2003; Kabat-Zinn adversity. Therefore, it would be reasonable to expect
2003). Some researchers suggest that mindfulness can be mindfulness to act as a buffer that may alleviate the rela-
defined as a personality trait referring to the inclination to be tions between mobile phone addiction and mental health
mindful in everyday life (Bao et al. 2015; Brown and Ryan problems (i.e., anxiety, depression). Specifically, for indi-
2003). That is, mindfulness typically represents individuals’ viduals with high mindfulness, they may attend to such
tendency to be in a mindful state across time and situation adversities as mobile phone addiction with greater objec-
(Quaglia et al. 2015). tivity and acceptance, and thus they may better respond to
The re-perceiving model of mindfulness posits that and deal with the mental health problems associated with
through mindfulness practice, people are able to shift their mobile phone addiction.
attention away from troubling thoughts or feelings by The primary goal of the present research was to examine
attending to moment-by-moment experience with greater the underlying processes that may moderate the associations
objectivity and awareness (Shapiro et al. 2006). Mind- between mobile phone addiction and mental health. Speci-
fulness practice may also facilitate more flexible and fically, we hypothesized that mobile phone addiction would
adaptive responses to stressful events in contrast to the be positively related to adolescents’ anxiety and depression.
automatic behavioral patterns or rigid emotional reactions Additionally, we assumed that mindfulness would moderate
(Chen et al. 2011; Shapiro et al. 2006). Furthermore, the associations between mobile phone addiction and both
higher levels of trait mindfulness may make it easier to anxiety and depression, in that both associations would be
develop the capability of re-perceiving, resulting in less weak when mindfulness was high.
psychological distress in response to negative experiences
(Harnett et al. 2016; Uusberg et al. 2016). In addition,
according to the stress-buffering hypothesis (Cohen and Method
Edwards 1989), such psychological resiliency factors as
mindfulness play important roles in buffering the adverse Participants
impacts of stress. The mindfulness stress-buffering
hypothesis further postulates that mindfulness can The participants were recruited from one high school in
attenuate the negative reactions to stress or adversity and southern China. Firstly, convenience sampling was used to
mitigate the detrimental impacts of stress on mental health select the target school. We then adopted cluster random
outcomes (Bergin and Pakenham 2016; Dixon and sampling to randomly choose six to eight classes in each
Overall 2016). Therefore, mindfulness may attenuate the grade in the target school. A sample of 1258 high school
links between negative factors (e.g., mobile phone students completed the survey. In the sample, 672 were
addiction) and individuals’ mental health outcomes (e.g., males (53.42%) and 586 were females (46.58%). Partici-
anxiety, depression). pants were between 14 and 20 years old (Mage = 16.76;
A substantial body of empirical research has confirmed SDage = .94), with only 0.4% being 20 years old and no 19
that mindfulness benefits psychological and social adaption. year olds. The 20 year olds were kept in the sample because
For instance, high levels of mindfulness are associated with of shared social and academic context with the adolescents
increased self-esteem, psychological resilience, positive in the standard age range.
affect, and life satisfaction (Bajaj and Pande 2016; Bluth
and Blanton 2014; Brown and Ryan 2003), and increases in Procedure
mindfulness are related to declines in stress, anxiety,
depression, and other negative emotions (Bajaj et al. 2016). This research was approved by the Ethics Committee of
A multitude of studies have further documented the mod- Psychological Research of the corresponding author’s
erating role of mindfulness in the relations between negative institution. Before data collection, informed consent was
experiences and mental health. For instance, Bergin and obtained from the participants and their teachers. Well-
Pakenham (2016) identified mindfulness as a protective trained psychology graduate students conducted the survey
factor in buffering the effect of perceived stress on and informed the participants of the confidentiality of the
depression and anxiety. Dixon and Overall (2016) also information collected and the principle of voluntary
found that the association between routine stress and participation.
Journal of Child and Family Studies

Measures Mindfulness

Mobile phone addiction The Child and Adolescent Mindfulness Measure (CAMM;
Greco et al. 2011) is an instrument for assessing trait
The 17-item Mobile Phone Addiction Index (MPAI; Leung mindfulness. It was developed based on the Kentucky
2008) was used to assess the tendency of mobile phone Inventory of Mindfulness Skills (Baer et al. 2004). This
addiction. The 17 items captured four dimensions of mobile scale consists of 10 items (e.g., “It’s hard for me to pay
phone addiction, namely, “losing control and receiving attention to only one thing at a time”; “I keep myself busy
complaints,” “anxiety and craving,” “withdrawal/escape,” so I don’t notice my thoughts and feelings”) measuring the
and “productivity loss.” Example items include “Your tendency for daily mindfulness in school-aged children and
friends and family complained about your use of the mobile adolescents. Each item was rated on a five-point scale
phone” and “You find it difficult to switch off your mobile ranging from 0 (never) to 4 (always). All of the items are
phone”. Respondents rated each item on a five-point scale reversely scored. The sum of the 10 item scores (ranging
ranging from 1 (not at all) to 5 (always). The sum of the 17 from 0 to 40) was calculated, with higher scores indicating
item scores (ranging from 17 to 85) was calculated, with higher levels of mindfulness. The reliability and validity of
higher scores indicating a tendency towards greater mobile the scale have been validated in Chinese children aged
phone addition. The scale showed good reliability and between 9 and 13 in a prior study (Zhou et al. 2017). In the
validity in both college students and adolescents in China current study, the Cronbach’s alpha coefficient was .87.
(Deng et al. 2015; Leung 2008; Lian et al. 2016). In the
current study, the Cronbach’s alpha coefficient was .88. Data analyses

Anxiety and depression To analyze the research data, we first used the software
SPSS 21.0 to conduct descriptive statistics and correlational
The Chinese version of the Depression Anxiety Stress analyses. We then used the SPSS macro PROCESS sug-
Scale-21 (Gong et al. 2010) was developed based on the 21- gested by Hayes (2013) to further examine the moderating
item Depression Anxiety Stress Scale (DASS-21; Lovibond role of mindfulness in the relations between mobile phone
and Lovibond 1995). The scale consists of three 7-item addiction and both anxiety and depression. The PROCESS
subscales (Depression, Anxiety, and Stress) which are macro is available to test multiple mediating and moderat-
designed to assess the frequency of experiencing depres- ing models with the bias-corrected percentile bootstrap
sion, anxiety, and stress, respectively. Example items method, and it has been used extensively in psychological
include “I felt that life was meaningless” (Depression), “I research (e.g., Li et al. 2016; van Strien et al. 2016; Zhou
felt I was close to panic” (Anxiety), and “I found myself et al. 2017). Considering that girls are more likely to be
getting agitated” (Stress). Each item was rated on a four- affected by anxiety and depression than boys (Bender et al.
point scale ranging from 0 (does not apply to me) to 3 2012; Hankin et al. 2015), and the risk for mental health
(applies to me very much or most of the time). Prior clinical problems such as anxiety and depression increases with age
and empirical research found that depression and anxiety among high school students (Luo et al. 2009), we controlled
were difficult to discriminate due to some common symp- for gender and grade in the analyses.
toms that the two constructs shared. On the DASS-21,
however, both exploratory and confirmatory approaches
have generally supported the three-factor structure of the Results
tool (Mellor et al. 2015; Sinclair et al. 2012; Wang et al.
2016), which means that depression, anxiety, and stress The descriptive statistics and correlation matrix are dis-
measured by the DASS-21 are very different dimensions. In played in Table 1. Correlation analyses indicated that
addition, smaller inter-factor correlations among depression, mobile phone addiction was negatively correlated with
anxiety, and stress have been found in the DASS-21 than in mindfulness (r = −.27, p < .001) and positively correlated
other scales (e.g., Sinclair et al. 2012; Wang et al. 2016). with anxiety (r = .28, p < .001) and depression (r = −.33,
Therefore, the DASS-21 can differentiate anxiety and p < .001). Mindfulness was negatively correlated with
depression efficiently. In the current study, we utilized the anxiety (r = −.32, p < .001) and depression (r = −.36,
Anxiety subscale and the Depression subscale (each cal- p < .05). Anxiety and depression were positively inter-
culated as the sum of 7 item scores, with subscale scores related (r = .59, p < .001).
ranging from 0 to 21). The Cronbach’s alpha coefficients of We predicted that mobile phone addiction would be
the Anxiety and Depression subscales were .82 and .83, positively associated with anxiety and depression among
respectively. adolescents, but these relations would be moderated by
Journal of Child and Family Studies

mindfulness. That is, the relations between mobile phone clearly, a simple slope test for the relation between mobile
addiction and both anxiety and depression would be sig- phone addiction and anxiety at low and high levels of
nificantly weaker for adolescents with higher levels of mindfulness (1 SD below the mean and 1 SD above the
mindfulness. To test the above hypotheses, we conducted mean, respectively) was conducted (see Fig. 1). The results
moderation analyses using the PROCESS macro (Model 1) showed that for low mindfulness adolescents, higher levels
(Hayes 2013) with mindfulness as the moderator variable, of mobile phone addiction were linked to more severe
mobile phone addiction as the independent variable, and symptoms of anxiety (βsimple = .44, p < .05). By contrast, the
anxiety (or depression) as the dependent variable. link between mobile phone addiction and anxiety became
Table 2 presents the results regarding anxiety and weaker when adolescents had higher levels of mindfulness
depression. As the dependent variable model for anxiety (βsimple = .25, p < .05).
shows, after controlling for gender and grade, the effect of As the dependent variable model for depression shows,
mobile phone addiction on anxiety was significant (β = .19, after controlling for gender and grade, the effect of mobile
p < .001), and the interaction of mobile phone addiction and phone addiction on depression was significant (β = .22,
mindfulness also had a significant association with anxiety p < .001), and the interaction of mobile phone addiction and
(β = −.11, p < .001). These findings indicated that mind- mindfulness also had a significant association with depres-
fulness moderated the association between mobile phone sion (β = −.10, p < .001). Therefore, mindfulness moder-
addiction and anxiety. To present the interaction effect more ated the association between mobile phone addiction and
depression. To present the interaction effect more clearly, a
Table 1 Means, standard deviations, and correlations of the variables simple slope test for the relation between mobile phone
of interest
addiction and depression at low and high levels of mind-
Variable M SD 1 2 3 4 fulness (1 SD below the mean and 1 SD above the mean,
respectively) was conducted (see Fig. 2). The results
Mobile phone addiction 39.46 12.22 1
showed that for low mindfulness adolescents, higher levels
Mindfulness 23.02 8.02 −.27*** 1
of mobile phone addiction were linked to more severe
Anxiety 5.21 4.11 .28*** −.32*** 1
symptoms of depression (βsimple = .51, p < .05), whereas the
Depression 4.99 4.17 .33*** −.36* .59*** 1
link between mobile phone addiction and depression
N = 1258 became weaker when adolescents had higher levels of
M Mean, SD standard deviation mindfulness (βsimple = .37, p < .05).
*
p < .05
***
p < .001

Table 2 Moderating effect of


β BootLLCI BootULCI t R2 F value
mindfulness on the relation
between mobile phone addiction Dependent variable anxiety
and anxiety (and depression)
Predictors .17 31.63***
*
Gender .11 .01 .21 2.08
Grade .04 −.02 .10 1.24
Mobile phone addiction .19 .12 .26 5.32***
Mindfulness −.29 −.36 −.21 −7.52***
Mobile phone addiction × Mindfulness −.11 −.17 −.04 −3.24***
Dependent variable depression
Predictors .21 46.98***
Gender −.04 −.14 .06 −0.79
Grade .04 −.03 .10 1.11
Mobile phone addiction .22 .15 .30 5.81***
Mindfulness −.32 −.40 −.24 −7.99***
Mobile phone addiction × Mindfulness −.10 −.17 −.03 −2.78***
N = 1258. Bootstrap sample size = 5000
LL low limit, CI confidence interval, UL upper limit
*
p < .05
***
p < .001
Journal of Child and Family Studies

health. In addition, our findings not only coincide with the


theories such as the re-perceiving model of mindfulness and
the mindfulness stress-buffering hypothesis but also help
promote the application of these theories in the mobile
Internet era.
Correlation analyses revealed that mobile phone addic-
tion was negatively related to mindfulness, which is con-
sistent with prior research documenting that mindfulness
could alleviate individuals’ dependency on mobile phones
and the Internet (e.g., Arslan 2017; Kim 2013). Mindfulness
can help individuals attend to the present-moment experi-
ence with intention and without identification, which helps
enhance their tolerance towards uncomfortable states such
as psychological craving (Kabat-Zinn 2003; Shapiro et al.
2006). Thus, highly mindful adolescents are less inclined to
be indulged in mobile phone use than those with low levels
Fig. 1 The moderating role of mindfulness in the association between of mindfulness. Moreover, the negative relations between
mobile phone addiction and anxiety. The moderating effect is graphed mindfulness and both anxiety and depression also con-
for two levels of mindfulness: (1) high mindfulness (1 SD above the
mean) and (2) low mindfulness (1 SD below the mean) firmed the beneficial effects of mindfulness on people’s
mental health (Bajaj and Pande 2016; Bajaj et al. 2016;
Bluth and Blanton 2014).
The findings also suggest that adolescents with greater
mobile phone addiction tend to experience greater symp-
toms of anxiety and depression. According to social cog-
nitive theory (Bandura 1986), there exists a reciprocal
association between individuals’ behaviors and their emo-
tions; that is, behaviors act as both the prerequisite and
outcome of emotions. Therefore, mobile phone addiction
may be closely linked to adolescents’ emotional and mental
health. Specifically, mobile phone addiction is a risk factor
not only for health hazards such as sleep disturbance (Liu
et al. 2017; Thomée et al. 2011), but also for social mal-
adjustment such as poor academic performance, perceived
stress, and interpersonal problems (Hawi and Samaha 2016;
Merlo 2008; Samaha and Hawi 2016). All of these stressors
may lead to worry and rumination, which further relates to
Fig. 2 The moderating role of mindfulness in the association between anxiety and depression in adolescents (Young and Dietrich
mobile phone addiction and depression. The moderating effect is 2015).
graphed for two levels of mindfulness: (1) high mindfulness (1 SD
above the mean) and (2) low mindfulness (1 SD below the mean)
Moreover, the results provide support for the moderating
role of mindfulness in the associations between mobile
phone addiction and both anxiety and depression in ado-
Discussion lescents, with these associations being weaker among
highly mindful adolescents than those with low mind-
Previous research has provided evidence of the associations fulness. These findings coincide with diathesis-stress the-
between mobile phone addiction and mental health out- ories (Monroe and Simons 1991), which suggests that
comes (e.g., anxiety, depression). This study extends pre- people with different traits (e.g., mindfulness) would
vious research by investigating the underlying mechanism respond to the same negative experiences (e.g., mobile
that moderates the relations between mobile phone addic- phone addiction) quite differently. Furthermore, the current
tion and anxiety and depression. That is, the present study confirmed the protective role of mindfulness against
research documents that mindfulness can buffer adolescents adversity (Dixon and Overall 2016; Liu et al. 2017), which
from some of the negative consequences of mobile phone lends support to the mindfulness stress buffering hypothesis
addiction, which is important to understand the relationship (Bergin and Pakenham 2016; Dixon and Overall 2016). A
between mobile phone addiction and adolescents’ mental key component of mindfulness is re-perceiving. Re-
Journal of Child and Family Studies

perceiving can help people attend to moment-by-moment Third, our study tested trait mindfulness as a potential
conditions with more objectivity, which decreases reflexive moderator in the associations between mobile phone
reactions and promotes more openness and acceptance to addiction and adolescents’ anxiety and depression. Future
the present situation (Shapiro et al. 2006). In general, studies should further examine whether cultivated mind-
mindfulness represents an intensive mental state of focusing fulness through intervention training (e.g., Mindfulness-
on the present moment with awareness and acceptance, Based Stress Reduction, Mindfulness-Based Cognitive
which is beneficial to shift one’s attention from the past and Therapy) and daily practice can attenuate the link between
future to the present moment experience (Bajaj and Pande mobile phone addiction and mental health problems.
2016; Kabat-Zinn 2003). Therefore, adolescents with high Finally, we highlighted the high incidence of mobile
levels of mindfulness are not obsessed with ruminative phone addiction and high vulnerability to mental health
regret or worry related to mobile phone addiction. They problems in adolescents, but we did not examine the effect
may realistically accept their situation and feelings, which of adolescent developmental stage (i.e., adolescence) on
in turn reduces the symptoms of anxiety and depression. In their addictive mobile phone use and the related mental
addition, mindfulness can help people better respond to health problems. Future research can further investigate the
psychological distress rather than reacting in a maladaptive impact of adolescence on adolescents’ use of mobile phones
or overindulging manner (Bajaj and Pande 2016; Roemer and their mental health to deepen our understanding of this
et al. 2015). Thus, adolescents with high mindfulness may age group.
be more capable of addressing the mental health problems In spite of these limitations, our findings shed light on
associated with mobile phone addiction. Mindfulness can when mobile phone addiction is associated with anxiety and
also promote self-development in various aspects such as depression in adolescents (i.e., moderation). Mobile phone
enhancing self-esteem, resilience, hope, and optimism addiction has been identified as a salient risk factor for
(Bajaj and Pande 2016; Bajaj et al. 2016; Malinowski and adolescents’ anxiety and depression, and achieving mind-
Hui 2015). These are all vital psychological resources that fulness may attenuate the effects of mobile phone addiction
contribute to mitigating the effects of adversity. Therefore, on adolescents’ mental health problems.
adolescents with high mindfulness generally hold positive
and hopeful attitudes toward themselves and the future, and Acknowledgements This study was supported by Major Program of
National Social Science Foundation of China (11&ZD151), and
they can better cope with mobile phone addiction and the
Research Program Funds of the Collaborative Innovation Center of
resulting mental distress, like anxiety and depression. Assessment toward Basic Education Quality at Beijing Normal Uni-
versity (2019-04-003-BZPK01). We would like to express our deep
Limitations gratitude to Yunbo Liu for her contribution to our research.

Author contributions X.Y. designed and executed the study, and


There are some limitations worth noting when interpreting
wrote the paper. Z.Z. collaborated with the design and writing of the
the results. First, despite the fact that we conducted our study. Q.L. analyzed the data and collaborated with the writing of the
research based on related theories and empirical studies, we study. C.F. collaborated in the writing and editing of the final
still cannot confirm the causal associations among the study manuscript.
variables due to the cross-sectional design of the research.
Empirical research indicated that adolescent mobile phone Compliance with ethical standards
addiction had a harmful effect on depressive symptoms, and
Ethical approval All procedures performed in our study involving
the symptoms of depression also increased the levels of
human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of
mobile phone addiction (Jun 2016). Therefore, studies that the institutional (Central China Normal University) and/or national
utilize longitudinal or experimental designs are needed to research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later
further examine the relationships among the variables of amendments or comparable ethical standards.
interest.
Informed consent Informed consent was obtained from all individual
Second, since we conducted the research in a community
participants included in the study.
sample and did not include a clinical group, the results may
be only generalizable to other community samples. In Conflict of interest The authors declare that they have no conflict of
addition, given that our research was conducted in a sample interest.
of high school students from a single high school, the
generalizability of these findings is limited. Therefore, Publisher’s note: Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to
jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.
future research should recruit a more diverse sample of
participants and further compare the constructed model in
clinical and nonclinical samples.
Journal of Child and Family Studies

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