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Attachment Style: emotional bonds condition mobile use among young people and their relational satisfaction

Cecilia Serrano, Gonzalo Fernández-Duval, Javier García-Manglano, Charo Sádaba and Claudia López, Youth in Transition Research Group, Institute for Culture and Society, University of Navarra
Project selected in the call for a grant to fund a social study project based on a multi-annual survey

The authors of this article use the term attachment style to refer to the way in which we establish affectional and emotional bonds with those closest to us. These bonds are shaped from childhood. Thus, young people who have developed an attachment based on security – called a secure attachment – more easily trust, as adults, those around them. This leads them to mobile phone use based primarily on communication and socialisation, as opposed to escapist use, which is attributed to the way of relating known as insecure attachment: that displayed by young people who use their phone to stop thinking about something they find uncomfortable. This study shows that young people with secure attachment who use their mobile mostly to communicate and less so for avoidance are those most satisfied with their personal relationships. In contrast, young people associated with insecure attachment in this study more often show avoidant mobile use, rarely using this tool to communicate with other people.
Key points
  • 1
       Among Spanish young people, the most frequent attachment style is secure attachment (47%), although a majority of them (53%) display insecure attachment styles. In the study carried out, these insecure forms of bonding were in turn classified as avoidant fearful (22%), anxious (16%) and avoidant dismissive (15%) styles.
  • 2
       Mobile use is mostly communicative, although 40% to 50% of young people aged between 18 and 24 admit to using their mobile to escape or stop thinking about things they find uncomfortable. According to the results of the study, this escapist use is more common among women.
  • 3
       The average difference in use of social media among young people with secure attachment and those with insecure attachment is small (five minutes a day), which seems to indicate that attachment is not a defining influence on time spent using these media.
  • 4
       Young people with secure attachment resort to mobile use more to communicate and less to escape, in comparison with young people who have developed an insecure attachment style.
  • 5
       Young people with secure attachment are more satisfied with their relationships with family and friends: when they communicate more and act less evasively, they show higher levels of satisfaction than when they communicate less and act more evasively.
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