Interrelationships between smartphone addiction, affect, sleep quality, and sexual problems: preliminary findings in a nonclinical female sample
Background. Smartphone addiction (also called problematic smartphone use) is an emergent problem that has been related to anxiety, depression, and poor sleep quality. Notably, there is lack of studies on the relation between smartphone addiction and sexual problems. The present study aimed at testing the hypothesis that smartphone addiction is associated with sexual problems in a non-clinical female sample from the Lisbon area, Portugal. Additionally, we examined if anxiety, depression, and poor sleep quality, explain the hypothesized association.
Methods. Fifty one women participated in a study on psychological and psychophysiological factors in sexual behavior that is presently ongoing (mean age = 21.78 years, SD = 5.64, range = 18 – 44). All participants were recruited from the university participant pool, and invited to come to the laboratory where all the questionnaires were completed. Measures include the Smartphone Addiction Scale – short version (SAS – SV), the Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale (HADS), the Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index (PSQI), the Female Sexual Function Index (FSFI), and the Female Sexual Distress Scale – Revised (FSDS – R), which assesses how distressful women feel regarding their sexuality. Participants also reported their past month frequency (in days) of penile-vaginal intercourse, noncoital sex, and masturbation.
Results. A higher degree of smartphone addiction correlated with greater sexually related personal distress (r = .36, p = .010), as well as with more anxiety (r = .36, p = .010), more depression (r = .32, p = .023), and poorer sleep quality (r = .42, p = .002). Smartphone addiction was uncorrelated with frequency of vaginal intercourse (r = -.08, p = .563), noncoital sex (r = .15, p = .284), and masturbation (r = -.02, p = .873). The groups with (N = 27) and without (N = 24) sexual relations in the past month did not differ in their degree of smartphone addiction (r = .040, p = .782). Among the sexually active group, poorer functioning during the sexual relations correlated strongly with more severe smartphone addiction (r = -.64, p < .001). There was a nonsignificant trend for smartphone addiction being correlated with sexual distress in partial correlations controlling for anxiety, depression, and sleep quality (r = .26, p = .075). Smartphone addiction was uncorrelated with sexual functioning in the sexually active group after controlling for anxiety, depression, and sleep quality (r = -.23, p = .292). Additionally controlling for age did not change substantially the partial correlations between smartphone addiction and sexual distress and functioning.
Conclusions. The present preliminary findings suggest that smartphone addiction is related to female sexual problems, although not to frequency of sexual activity. Negative affect and poor sleep quality appear to play an important role in the relationship between smartphone addiction and sexual problems.