Effects of smartphones on economic and subjective quality of life


  • Yong Jin Park Howard University
  • Yu Won Oh Myongji University




differential gains, earning, quality of life, digital disparity


Popular characterizations of smartphones presume the benefits of their use. To test this, we used a national survey data (n = 1,261) and examined smartphone effects on economic and subjective quality of life. Preliminary analyses revealed significant associations between smartphone use and earnings as well as quality of life. Two-stage least square models, however, suggested that those associations are potentially endogenous, or can be better recognized as ‘chicken-and-egg’ causality. Subsequently, we dissected the relationships into mediating steps and found an indirect effect of a certain feature of smartphone use — texting to diverse people — on earning, signaling that benefits of smartphone are rewarded indirectly through diverse social contacts. We also found the persistent power of socio-demographics in explaining a large variance for subjective quality of life. Taken together, this study aims to take a historical snapshot of smartphone effects at its ‘critical mass’ turn and make a fuller description of how smartphones will be utilized, shedding a light on societal nature of technological benefits.

Author Biographies

Yong Jin Park, Howard University

Yong Jin Park is a professor (Ph. D. University of Michigan) School of Communications, Howard University.

Yu Won Oh, Myongji University

Yu Won Oh is an assistant professor in the Department of Digital Media at Myongji University in Seoul, South Korea.




How to Cite

Park, Y. J., & Oh, Y. W. (2021). Effects of smartphones on economic and subjective quality of life. First Monday, 26(3). https://doi.org/10.5210/fm.v26i3.10269