This present study aimed to examine the mediating role of rumination and the moderating role of self-control in the link between perceived stress and mobile phone addiction during the COVID-19 epidemic. A total of 628 college students completed Depression-Anxiety-Stress Scale, Smartphone Addiction Scale, Ruminative Responses Scale and Self-Control Scale. Mediation analysis highlighted that rumination mediated the association between perceived stress and mobile phone addiction. Moderated mediation analysis indicated that the indirect association between perceived stress and mobile phone addiction were moderated by self-control. Between the COVID affected group and the unaffected group, some differences also be observed in the moderating effect of self-control. This study emphasize the importance of rumination and self-control in understanding the possible mechanisms underlying the relationship between perceived stress and mobile phone addiction, which can be used to develop interventions to reduce the problematic behavior among college students during the COVID-19 pandemic. © 2021 Published by Elsevier Ltd.