Unifying Concepts

Proposed Diagnostic Criteria for Smartphone Addiction

The diagnostic criteria of smartphone addiction demonstrated the core symptoms “impaired control” paralleled with substance related and addictive disorders. The functional impairment involved multiple domains provide a strict standard for clinical assessment.

Proposed diagnostic criteria for smartphone addiction

Criteria A: Maladaptive pattern of smartphone use, leading to clinically significant impairment or distress, occurring at any time within the same 3-month period. Three (or more) of the following symptoms having been present:

  1. Recurrent failure to resist the impulse to use the smartphone
  2. Withdrawal: as manifested by dysphoria, anxiety and/or irritability after a period without smartphone use
  3. Smartphone use for a period longer than intended
  4. Persistent desire and/or unsuccessful attempts to quit or reduce smartphone use
  5. Excessive time spent on using or quitting the smartphone use
  6. Continued excessive smartphone use despite knowledge of having a persistent or recurrent physical or psychological problem resulting from smartphone overuse

Criteria B: Functional impairment, two (or more) of the following symptoms have been present

  1. Excessive smartphone use resulting in persistent or recurrent physical or psychological problem
  2. Smartphone use in a physically hazardous situation (e.g., smartphone use while driving, or crossing the street), or having other negative impacts on daily life
  3. Smartphone use resulting in impairment of social relationships, school achievement, or job performance
  4. Excessive smartphone use causes significant subjective distress, or is time-consuming

Criteria C: Exclusion criteria
The smartphone addictive behavior is not better accounted for by obsessive–compulsive disorder or by bipolar I disorder.

Both criteria A and B must be present for the diagnosis of smartphone addiction.



  1. Lin YH, Chiang CL, Lin PH, et al. Proposed Diagnostic Criteria for Smartphone Addiction. PLoS One. 2016;11(11):e0163010. [Medline]
  2. Horvath J, Mundinger C, Schmitgen MM, et al. Structural and functional correlates of smartphone addiction [published online ahead of print, 2020 Feb 1]. Addict Behav. 2020;105:106334. [Medline]


Created Feb 26, 2020.

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