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Open AccessArticle

An Innovative, Unobtrusive Approach to Investigate Smartphone Interaction in Nonaddicted Subjects Based on Wearable Sensors: A Pilot Study

Institute of Clinical Physiology-National Research Council of Italy (IFC-CNR), Via Moruzzi 1, 56124 Pisa, Italy
University of Pisa, School of Engineering, Largo Lucio Lazzarino 1, 56122 Pisa, Italy
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Medicina 2019, 55(2), 37;
Received: 18 December 2018 / Revised: 25 January 2019 / Accepted: 31 January 2019 / Published: 4 February 2019
PDF [1808 KB, uploaded 8 February 2019]
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Background and objectives: Smartphones are playing a pivotal role in everyday life, due to the opportunity they grant in terms of simplifying communication, entertainment, education and many other daily activities. Against such positive characteristics, smartphone interaction can result, in particular cases, in dangerous smartphone addiction patterns, possibly leading to several long-term detrimental psychophysiological conditions. Therefore, this pilot aims at assessing the feasibility of using an innovative approach, based on unobtrusive wearable sensors, used for the first time in this specific topic, and psychological questionnaires, to investigate the links between stress and emotions in a group of young, nonaddicted individuals performing smartphone interaction. Materials and methods: 17 volunteers were enrolled for the present study. The study protocol was divided into three phases, with an initial resting state (baseline) of three minutes, a smartphone interaction session (task) of the same length, and a final resting state (recovery), lasting three minutes. In the overall procedure, electrocardiogram (ECG) and galvanic skin response (GSR) measurements, both monitored by wearable sensors, were acquired in order to assess the functioning of the autonomic nervous system (ANS). Results: A significant decrease was seen in pNN50 during the smartphone interaction with respect to the baseline (Z = −2.675, p = 0.007), whereas the Low-to-High Frequency (LF/HF) ratio at task was somewhat correlated with phubbing behaviors (r = 0.655, p = 0.029), assessed through dedicated questionnaires. Conclusions: Taken together with the slight changes in GSR data, such results suggest the feasibility of this approach to characterize the ANS activation during smartphone interaction among young individuals. Further studies should enlarge the study population and involve smartphone-addicted subjects in order to increase the scientific and clinical relevance of such findings. View Full-Text
Keywords: internet addiction; quality of life; smartphone addiction; social anxiety internet addiction; quality of life; smartphone addiction; social anxiety

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Tonacci, A.; Billeci, L.; Sansone, F.; Masci, A.; Pala, A.P.; Domenici, C.; Conte, R. An Innovative, Unobtrusive Approach to Investigate Smartphone Interaction in Nonaddicted Subjects Based on Wearable Sensors: A Pilot Study. Medicina 2019, 55, 37.

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