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Most research on Problematic Internet Usage (PIU) relied on self-report data when measuring the time spent on the internet. Self-reporting of use, typically done through a survey, showed discrepancies from the actual amount of use. Studies exploring the association between trait emotional intelligence (EI) components and the subjective feeling on technology usage and PIU are also limited. The current cross-sectional study aims to examine whether the objectively recorded technology usage, taking smartphone usage as a representative, components of trait EI (sociability, emotionality, well-being, self-control), and happiness with phone use can predict PIU and its components (obsession, neglect, and control disorder). A total of 268 participants (Female: 61.6%) reported their demographic and completed a questionnaire that included Problematic Internet Usage Questionnaire short form (PIUQ–SF–6), Trait Emotional Intelligence Questionnaire-Short Form (TEIQue-SF), level of happiness with the amount and frequency of smartphone use, and living conditions (whether alone or with others). Their smartphone usage was objectively recorded through a dedicated app. A series of one-way ANOVA revealed no significant difference in PIU for different living conditions and a significant difference in the subjective level of happiness with phone usage (F (3, 264) = 7.55, p < .001), as well as of the frequency of usage where the unhappy group had higher PIU (F (3, 264) = 6.85, p < .001). Multiple linear regression analysis showed that happiness with phone usage (β = −.17), the actual usage of communication (β = .17), social media (β = .19) and gaming apps (β = .13), and trait EI component of self-control (β = −.28) were all significant predictors of PIU. Moreover, gender, age, and happiness with the frequency of phone usage were not significant predictors of PIU. The whole model accounted for the total variance of PIU by 32.5% (Adjusted R2 = .287). Our study contributes to the literature by being among the few to rely on objectively recorded smartphone usage data and utilizing components of trait EI as predictors.




Elsevier BV






Computer Sciences


Addictive behavior, Digital wellbeing, Internet addiction, Problematic interenet usage, Smartphone apps usage, Trait emotional intelligence

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Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

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Gold: This publication is openly available in an open access journal/series