Background: Smartphone usage has increasing during recent years. Since its excessive use can have negative
consequences, it is important to know how users use it and become dependent on it. This study was aimed at
exploring how university students use their phones, how they depend on them, and the possible
consequences of overusing them.
Methods: This study was conducted using a qualitative design and with a thematic analysis method. Data
were collected using 3 focus group discussions regarding experiences of using smartphones among 22
smartphone owners who reported smartphone overuse. They were chosen through snowball sampling at a
University of Medical Sciences in Tehran (Iran).
Findings: Based on the analysis, the 3 categories of process usage (sub-categories: doing daily routines,
information seeking, to take a picture or video, entertainment, academic work, making money, to escape
real-life, and passing the time), social usage (sub-categories: relationship with family, relationship with
friends, interact with the opposite gender, to be seen and heard, approval seeking, and free expression), and
disadvantages (sub-categories: interference with other essential activities, decreased face-to-face
communications, overdependence, automatic use, loss of sense of time, stress, fatigue, sleep disturbances,
physical inactivity, eye problems, high bills, and distraction) were developed.
Conclusion: In this research, participants mentioned various uses of their smartphones that enable them to
meet their personal needs and, in spite of the negative consequences of its overuse, cause them to continue to
use it. Some uses seem to be affected by environmental and cultural conditions.