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Looking beyond mobile phones to understand the well-being of Portuguese young adults

Tiago LapaTiago Lapa, Gustavo Cardoso, ISCTE – Instituto Universitário de Lisboa; Charo Sádaba, Javier García-Manglano, Gonzalo Fernández Duval, Grupo de investigación Jóvenes en Transición, ICS, Universidad de Navarra;
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In the current context of the COVID-19 pandemic, technologies such as the mobile phone are a double-edged sword. The results of this study show that, on the one hand, problematic use of mobile technologies is associated with lower levels of well-being among young adults. On the other hand, Portuguese young adults believe that mobile technologies have been essential to their well-being through the lockdowns and social distancing rules triggered by the pandemic. But technology is only part of the equation: Young adults’ well-being also varies according to gender, education, occupation, household composition, sleep hygiene, satisfaction with close relationships, study or work achievement and use of free time.
Key points
  • 1
       More than a quarter (26.7%) of a sample of Portuguese young adults had low well-being, compared to just under a third (31.9%) showing high well-being.
  • 2
       Lower levels of well-being were found among young women, the unemployed (those who do not work or study), those with primary education or an undergraduate degree, and those who lived without family.
  • 3
       On average, respondents reported using their mobile phone for 5 hours and 35 minutes per day. Daily, they also spent on average two hours and 27 minutes communicating via messages; two hours and 40 minutes using online social networks (Instagram, TikTok, and the like); an hour and 31 minutes watching videos or series; and almost half an hour playing games on their mobile. Female respondents reported spending half an hour more per day on their mobile devices than male respondents.
  • 4
       When mobile phone use is problematic, the proportion of respondents with high personal well-being is lower. 41.9% of respondents who had problematic mobile phone use displayed low levels of well-being. However, most respondents (74.5%) thought that mobile phones had quite a bit or a lot of importance for their well-being during the pandemic.
  • 5
       Higher levels of well-being are found among young adults who reported spending at least a few hours per week on screen-free hobbies and physical activities and also among those who reported sleeping at least eight hours a day.
  • 6
       High levels of well-being were observed among respondents who were satisfied with their relationships with family and friends, and, above all, their academic or work performance and the use of their free time.

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