Emotion regulation in relation to smartphone use: Process smartphone use mediates the association between expressive suppression and problematic smartphone use

Previous research has shown that problematic smartphone use (PSU) is related to several affect-related psychopathology variables. Emotion dysregulation has been regarded as a central psychological factor associated with that type of psychopathology. In this paper, the association between expressive emotional suppression, a form of emotion dysregulation, with PSU was investigated. Furthermore, we tested if types of smartphone use (process and social use) mediated that association.
Three hundred American college students participated in a web-based survey that included the Smartphone Addiction Scale (for problematic smartphone use), Emotion Regulation Questionnaire (assessing suppression), and Process vs. Social Smartphone Usage scale. We found that expressive suppression was correlated with both process smartphone use and PSU severity. Mediation analysis showed that process smartphone use completely mediated relations between suppression and PSU severity. The findings suggest that dysfunctional emotion regulation could lead to more process smartphone use that, in turn, may manifest in PSU severity. Contributions and limitations of the study are discussed.

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