Prevalence of Smartphone Addiction among University Students in Saudi Arabia: A Multicenter Study

  • Rashed Alboali Ministry of Health , Abqaiq PHC
  • Abdulrahman Fouad ALkhateeb Ministry of Health , Alkhobar
  • Waleed Alharbi Ministry of health , Alkhobar PHC
  • Olfat Saleh Ministry of Health , Alkhobar PHC
Keywords: Smartphone, Smartphone Addiction, Smartphone Usage


Objective: To find out the prevalence of smartphones addiction among college and university students in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) and its association with demographic variables

Methodology: A study was conducted in all provinces of KSA between December 2015 to June 2016. An electronic survey was sent to students’ clubs of various universities. Smartphone Addiction Scale (SAS) was used which had 33 closed-ended questions. Total score of SAS was calculated and three categories of addiction was made: low, moderate, high. Questionnaire also included sociodemographic questions, and smartphone usage patterns and addiction behaviour.

Results: The total number of participants was 1941 (response rate of 80.9%) students representing most of the provinces of Saudi Arabia. The prevalence of smartphones addiction was found to be 19.1%. Female participants were more addicted than males (p <0.001). Medical students were less smartphone-addicted than non-medical college students (p = 0.007). Inverse and significant relation between age onset of mobile usage with its addiction was found (p = 0.02).

Conclusion: Prevalence of smartphone addiction found in the present study was not high. However, female and non-medical colleges students were found to be more addicted to smartphones. Those who started using smartphones at an early age were also found to be more addicted. Less awareness about harms of smartphones addiction could be one of the reasons of having high prevalence of addiction among non-medical students and those who started using at a younger age. 


Cheon J, Lee S, Crooks SM, Song J. An investigation of mobile learning readiness in higher education based on the theory of planned behavior. Comput Edu. 2012;59(3):1054-64.

Markett C, Sánchez IA, Weber S, Tangney B. Using short message service to encourage interactivity in the classroom. Comput Edu.2006;46(3):280-93.

Kumar VA, Chandrasekaran V, Brahadeeswari H. Prevalence of smartphone addiction and its effects on sleep quality: A cross-sectional study among medical students. Ind Psychiatry J. 2019; 28(1):82-85

Alhazmi AA, Alzahrani SH, Baig M, Salawati EM, Alkatheri A. Prevalence and factors associated with smartphone addiction among medical students at King Abdulaziz University, Jeddah. Pak J Med Sci. 2018;34:984–8.

Domoff SE, Sutherland EQ, Yokum S, Gearhardt AN. Adolescents’ addictive phone use: association with eating behavior and adiposity. Int J Environ Res Pub Health. 2020; 17(8). e2861. doi: 10.3390/ijerph17082861

Walsh JL, Fielder RL, Carey KB, Carey MP. Female College Students' Media Use and Academic Outcomes: Results from a Longitudinal Cohort Study. Emerging adulthood (Print). 2013;1(3):219-32.

Demirci K, Orhan H, Demirdas A, Akpınar A, Sert H. Validity and reliability of the Turkish Version of the Smartphone Addiction Scale in a younger population. Klinik Psikofarmakoloji Bulteni. 2014;24(3):226-34.

Kim D, Lee Y, Lee J, Nam JK, Chung Y. Development of Korean Smartphone addiction proneness scale for youth. PloS one. 2014;9(5):e97920.

Kim H. Exercise rehabilitation for smartphone addiction. J Exer Rehabil. 2013;9(6):500-505.

Thomee S, Harenstam A, Hagberg M. Mobile phone use and stress, sleep disturbances, and symptoms of depression among young adults--a prospective cohort study. BMC public health. 2011;11:66.

Block JJ. Issues for DSM-V: Internet addiction. Am J Psychiatr. 2008;165(3):306-7.

Chen S, Weng L, Su Y, Wu H, Yang P. Development of a Chinese Internet addiction scale and its psychometric study. Chin J Psychol. 2003;45(3):279-294.

Alfawareh HM, Jusoh S. Smartphones usage among university students: Najran university case. Int J Acad Res. 2014;6(2):321-6.

AlAbdulwahab SS, Kachanathu SJ, AlMotairi MS. Smartphone use addiction can cause neck disability.Musculoskeletal Care. 2017;15:10–12.

Hegazy AA, Alkhail BA, Awadalla NJ, Qadi M, Al-Ahmadi J. Mobile Phone Use and Risk of Adverse Health Impacts among Medical Students in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. Brit J Medic Med Res.2016;15(1).

Alosaimi FD, Alyahya H, Alshahwan H, Mahyijari NA, Shaik SA. Smartphone addiction among university students in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. Saudi Med J. 2016;37(6):675-83.

Aljomaa SS, Al.Qudah MF, Albursan IS, Bakhiet SF, Abduljabbar AS. Smartphone addiction among university students in the light of some variables. Comput Human Behav.2016;61:155-64.

Davey S, Davey A. Assessment of Smartphone Addiction in Indian Adolescents: A Mixed Method Study by Systematic-review and Meta-analysis Approach. Int J Prev Med. 2014;5(12):1500-11.

Kwon M, Kim DJ, Cho H, Yang S. The smartphone addiction scale: development and validation of a short version for adolescents. PloS one.2013;8(12):e83558.

Lopez-Fernandez O, Honrubia-Serrano L, Freixa-Blanxart M, Gibson W. Prevalence of problematic mobile phone use in British adolescents. CyberPsychol Behav Soc Netw.2014;17(2):91-8.

Olatz L-F, Luisa H-SM, Montserrat F-B. Spanish adaptation of the" Mobile Phone Problem Use Scale" for adolescent population. Adicciones. 2012;24(2).

Haug S, Castro RP, Kwon M, Filler A, Kowatsch T, Schaub MP. Smartphone use and smartphone addiction among young people in Switzerland. J Behav Addict. 2015;4(4):299-307.

Demıṙ cı ̇Kr, Akgönül M, Akpinar A. Relationship of Smartphone Use Severity with Sleep Quality, Depression, and Anxiety in University Students. J Behav Addict. 2014;4(2):85-92.

Kim S-E, Kim J-W, Jee Y-S. Relationship between smartphone addiction and physical activity in Chinese international students in Korea. J Behav Addict.2015;4(3):200-5.

Perry SD, Lee KC. Mobile phone text messaging overuse among developing world university students. Communicatio. 2007;33(2):63-79.

Pawłowska B, Potembska E. Gender and severity of symptoms of mobile phone addiction in Polish gymnasium, secondary school and university students. Curr Psychiatr Prob. 2011;12(4):433-8.

Zulkefly SN, Baharudin R. Mobile phone use amongst students in a university in Malaysia: its correlates and relationship to psychological health. Eur J Sci Res. 2009;27(2):206-18.

Turner M, Love S, Howell M. Understanding emotions experienced when using a mobile phone in public: The social usability of mobile (cellular) telephones.Telematics and Informatics. 2008;25(3):201-15.

Kubey RW, Lavin MJ, Barrows JR. Internet use and collegiate academic performance decrements: Early findings. J commun.2001;51(2):366-82.

Casey BM. Linking psychological attributes to smart phone addiction, face-to-face communication, present absence and social capital: The Chinese University of Hong Kong; 2012.

Pierce TA, Vaca R. Distracted: Academic performance differences between teen users and non-users of MySpace and other communication technology. J Sys Cyber & Info.2008; 6(3):67-71.

Pearl D, Bouthilet L, Lazar JB. Television and behavior: Ten years of scientific progress and implications for the eighties: US Dept. of Health and Human Services, Public Health Service, Alcohol, Drug Abuse, and Mental Health Administration, National Institute of Mental Health; 1982.

Uys W, Mia A, Jansen GJ, Van H, Schyff D, Josias MA, et al. Smartphone Application Usage Amongst Students at a South African University. 2012.

Roberts JA, Yaya LH, Manolis C. The invisible addiction: Cell-phone activities and addiction among male and female college students. J Behav Addict. 2014; 3(4):254-65.

Abu-Jedy A. Mobile phone addiction and its relationship with self-discloser among sample of students from University Of Jordan And Amman Al-Ahliyya University. Jord J App Sci.2008;4(2):137-50.

Hassanzadeh R, Rezaei A. Effect of sex, course and age on SMS addiction in students. Middle-East J Sci Res. 2011; 10(5):619-25.

Oliver B, editor Australian university students' use of and attitudes towards mobile learning technologies. IADIS international conference: Mobile learning; 2005.

Rosario R-O, Valentina L, Jose PM, Javier H. Analysis of behavior related to use of the internet, mobile telephones, compulsive shopping and gambling among university students. Adicciones. 2010; 22(4):301-309.

How to Cite
Alboali, R., ALkhateeb, A., Alharbi, W., & Saleh, O. (2020). Prevalence of Smartphone Addiction among University Students in Saudi Arabia: A Multicenter Study. Annals of Jinnah Sindh Medical University, 6(1), 10-15.