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Unveiling the dark side in smartphone addiction: mediation of strain and moderation of hedonic use on well-being

Murad Moqbel (Department of Information Systems, University of Texas Rio Grande Valley, Edinburg, Texas, USA)
Saggi Nevo (Department of Information Systems and Business Analytics, University at Albany State University of New York, Albany, New York, USA)
Fiona Fui-Hoon Nah (Department of Media and Communication, City University of Hong Kong, Kowloon Tong, Hong Kong)

Internet Research

ISSN: 1066-2243

Article publication date: 27 June 2022

Issue publication date: 28 March 2023




The research purpose is to investigate the mediating and moderating relationships between smartphone addiction and well-being (i.e. health-related quality of life).


A survey of 236 smartphone users was used to test the research model.


The structural equation modeling analysis results show that smartphone addiction negatively impacts well-being by draining a key personal resource, energy, thus creating strain. The adverse effect of smartphone addiction on users' well-being is found to be more intense when smartphones are used for hedonic purposes.

Research limitations/implications

Through the conservation of resources theory lens, this study increases our understanding of the role of strain in mediating the negative effect of smartphone addiction on well-being. This study also has practical implications. By exploring the mediating and moderating mechanisms underlying when and how smartphone addiction can be detrimental to well-being, interventions can be carried out to mitigate the adverse effects on well-being.


Past research has focused on the antecedents and consequences of smartphone addiction while ignoring the contextual factors of smartphone addiction effects as well as the intervening mechanism through which smartphone addiction impacts well-being. Through the lens of the conservation of resources theory, we close this gap in the literature by providing a better understanding of the mechanism by which smartphone addiction reduces well-being and identifying a relevant contextual factor (i.e. hedonic use) that can worsen the impact of smartphone addiction on well-being.



An initial proposal of this research was presented and published in the proceedings of the 53rd Hawaii International Conference on System Sciences 2020.


Moqbel, M., Nevo, S. and Nah, F.F.-H. (2023), "Unveiling the dark side in smartphone addiction: mediation of strain and moderation of hedonic use on well-being", Internet Research, Vol. 33 No. 1, pp. 12-38.



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