Youths' Habitual Use of Smartphones Alters Sleep Quality and Memory: Insights from a National Sample of Chinese Students

Xiaojing Li, Siqi Fu, Qiang Fu, Bu Zhong*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review

11 Citations (Scopus)


A growing body of work has been devoted to studying the smartphone addiction in youths and its impact on their lives, but less is known about the predictors and effects of youth habitual use of smartphones. Guided by social cognitive theory, this study investigates how habitual smartphone use affects sleep quality and everyday memory based on a nationally representative sample of Chinese students (N = 2298). It uses a cluster-randomized sampling with stratification of different areas, consisting of both urban and rural students aged 6–18 years from elementary, middle, and high schools across China. It found that Chinese students exhibited a habitual smartphone use, who were generally confident in using mobile devices, but few had smartphone addiction. Significant gender and age differences were identified concerning the habitual use of smartphone. Specifically, boys demonstrated higher levels of habitual use and smartphone self-efficacy than the girls. High school students showed the highest level of habitual smartphone use compared to those in elementary and middle schools. Smartphone use duration, frequency, and self-efficacy predicted the habitual use, which also led to poorer sleep quality and worse memory outcomes. Prebedtime exposure moderated the relationship between habitual smartphone uses and sleep quality. The results show that students’ habitual smartphone use had a significant impact on their health, cognition and more, even when they exhibited little smartphone addiction. The findings contribute to a better understanding of smartphone impact on school-age youths.

Original languageEnglish
Article number2254
Number of pages12
JournalInternational Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2021

User-Defined Keywords

  • habitual smartphone use
  • sleep quality
  • memory
  • social cognitive theory
  • student


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