Validation of self-reported smartphone usage against objectively-measured smartphone usage in Hong Kong Chinese adolescents and young adults

Paul H. Lee, Andy C.Y. Tse, Cynthia S.T. Wu, Yim Wah Mak, Uichin Lee

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review


Objective This study evaluated the validity of self-reported smartphone usage data against objectively-measured smartphone usage data by directly tracking the activities in the participants’ smartphone among Chinese adolescents and young adults in Hong Kong. Methods A total of 187 participants were recruited (mean age 19.4, 71.7% female) between 2017 and 2018. A smartphone usage tracking app was installed on all participants’ smartphone for 7 consecutive days. After the 7-day monitoring period, they completed a self-administered questionnaire on smartphone usage habits. Results Although the correlation between self-reported and objectively-measured total smartphone usage time was insignificant (ρ=-0.10, p=0.18), in three out of the four usage domains were positively and significantly correlated, namely social network (ρ=0.21, p=0.005), instant messaging (ρ=0.27, p<0.001), and games (ρ=0.64, p<0.001). Participants’ self-report of the total time spent on smart-phones exceeded the objective data by around 760 min per week (self-reported 1,930.3 min/wk vs. objectively-measured 1,170.7 min/ wk, p<0.001). Most of the over-reporting was contributed by the web browsing domain (self-reported 447.8 min/wk vs. objectively-mea-sured 33.3 min/wk, p<0.001). Conclusion Our results showed large discrepancies between self-reported smartphone and objectively-measured smartphone usage except for self-reported usage on game apps.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)95-100
Number of pages6
JournalPsychiatry Investigation
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2 Feb 2021


  • Chinese
  • Information technology
  • Mobile phone
  • Smartphone monitoring
  • Valid

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Biological Psychiatry

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