Temporal stability of smartphone use data: Determining fundamental time unit and independent cycle

Yuan Chien Pan, Hsiao Han Lin, Yu Chuan Chiu, Sheng Hsuan Lin, Yu Hsuan Lin*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


Background: Assessing human behaviors via smartphone for monitoring the pattern of daily behaviors has become a crucial issue in this century. Thus, a more accurate and structured methodology is needed for smartphone use research. Objective: The study aimed to investigate the duration of data collection needed to establish a reliable pattern of use, how long a smartphone use cycle could perpetuate by assessing maximum time intervals between 2 smartphone periods, and to validate smartphone use and use/nonuse reciprocity parameters. Methods: Using the Know Addiction database, we selected 33 participants and passively recorded their smartphone usage patterns for at least 8 weeks. We generated 4 parameters on the basis of smartphone use episodes, including total use frequency, total use duration, proactive use frequency, and proactive use duration. A total of 3 additional parameters (root mean square of successive differences, Control Index, and Similarity Index) were calculated to reflect impaired control and compulsive use. Results: Our findings included (1) proactive use duration correlated with subjective smartphone addiction scores, (2) a 2-week period of data collection is required to infer a 2-month period of smartphone use, and (3) smartphone use cycles with a time gap of 4 weeks between them are highly likely independent cycles. Conclusions: This study validated temporal stability for smartphone use patterns recorded by a mobile app. The results may provide researchers an opportunity to investigate human behaviors with more structured methods.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere12171
JournalJournal of Medical Internet Research
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2019


  • Mobile phone
  • Smartphone
  • Smartphone addiction
  • Smartphone use
  • Temporal stability


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