Excessive Dependence on Mobile Social Apps: A Rational Addiction Perspective

Forthcoming at Information Systems Research Special Issue on Ubiquitous IT and Digital Vulnerabilities

48 Pages Posted: 11 Jan 2016 Last revised: 1 Jun 2016

See all articles by Hyeokkoo Eric Kwon

Hyeokkoo Eric Kwon

Nanyang Business School, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore

Hyunji So

College of Business, Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST)

Sang Pil Han

Arizona State University, W.P.Carey School of Business

Wonseok Oh

College of Business, Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST)

Date Written: May 31, 2016

Abstract

Drawing on the rational addiction framework, this study explores the digital vulnerabilities driven by excessive dependence on mobile social apps (e.g., SNS and social games). Rational addicts anticipate the future consequences of their current behaviors and attempt to maximize utility from their intertemporal consumption choices. Conversely, myopic addicts tend toward immediate gratification and fail to fully recognize the future harmful consequences of their current consumption. In lieu of conducting self-report surveys or aggregate-level demand estimation, this research examines addictive behaviors on the basis of consumption quantity at an individual level. To empirically validate rational addiction in the context of social app consumption, we collect and analyze 13-month, individual-level panel data on the weekly app usage of thousands of smartphone users. Results indicate that the average social app user conducts herself in a forward-looking manner and rationally adjusts consumption over time to derive optimal utility. The subgroup analysis, however, indicates that substantial variations in addictiveness and forward-looking propensities exist across demographically diverse groups. For example, addictive behaviors toward SNSs are more myopic in nature among older, less-educated, high-income groups. Additionally, type of social app moderates the effects of demographic characteristics on the nature of addictive behaviors. We provide valuable implications that policymakers can use to effectively manage mobile addiction problems, with the recommendations focusing on asymmetric social policies (e.g., information- and capacity-enhancing measures).

Keywords: rational addiction, myopic addiction, digital vulnerability, IT and health impact, mobile social apps, app consumption, econometrics, panel data

Suggested Citation

Kwon, Hyeokkoo Eric and So, Hyunji and Han, Sang Pil and Oh, Wonseok, Excessive Dependence on Mobile Social Apps: A Rational Addiction Perspective (May 31, 2016). Forthcoming at Information Systems Research Special Issue on Ubiquitous IT and Digital Vulnerabilities, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2713567 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2713567

Hyeokkoo Eric Kwon

Nanyang Business School, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore ( email )

S3 B2B-71, 50 Nanyang Avenue
Singapore, 639798
Singapore

HOME PAGE: http://sites.google.com/view/erickwon/

Hyunji So

College of Business, Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST) ( email )

85 Hoegiro Dongdaemun-Gu
Seoul 02455
Korea, Republic of (South Korea)

Sang Pil Han (Contact Author)

Arizona State University, W.P.Carey School of Business ( email )

Tempe, AZ 85287-3706
United States
480-965-8603 (Phone)

HOME PAGE: http://https://apps.wpcarey.asu.edu/directory/people/profile.cfm?person=2255149

Wonseok Oh

College of Business, Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST) ( email )

85 Hoegiro Dongdaemun-Gu
Seoul 02455
Korea, Republic of (South Korea)

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