The Science Behind Nomophobia: A Rising Modern-Day Addiction

As per the Pew Research Center, 85% of Americans now own a smartphone, and the number is continuously rising. About half of US adults with a smartphone check in multiple times a day and about 11% of them exasperatedly tap their phone awake every few minutes. 

Especially for the new so-called millennial generation – the phone is no longer a tool to call, text, email, or even play their favorite games. The phone is now a lifeline – with the most elaborate contact list, social media applications, reminders, precious aesthetic pictures, and even digital wallets. 

Think of the time when you misplaced your phone the last time. Remember how easily you realized it and then dropped everything to find it as soon as possible. Or when your phone’s battery level was below 20%, and you rearranged your whole life to charge it up. Or that sinking feeling you had when you left your phone at home while going out. Well, science has a name for this feeling – Nomophobia – or the fear of not being near your mobile phones. And guess the even more staggering part – it is far more common and widespread than you could imagine. 

Let us dive deeper into the science of Nomophobia and understand the deeper implications of this new-age addiction. We will also discuss how to fight Nomophobia. 


The Science Of Nomophobia

The clinical term Nomophobia was coined in 2010 after the Telegraph published a study revealing that 53% of people suffered from a condition that involved a fear of not being in contact with their mobile phones or being unable to use them in case the battery dies down. The anxiety associated with Nomophobia is the same as people face on a wedding day or before their visit to the dentist’s office. 

Nomophobia results from the growing importance of mobile phones in our day-to-day lives. If we come to think of it realistically, our days begin and end with our mobile phones. According to a Forbes study, younger people asked to stay away from phones showed increased heart rates and heightened blood pressure levels. In the words of Dr. Mark Griffiths of Nottingham Trent University, one would have to surgically remove a mobile phone from today’s generation because it is so deeply ingrained into our lives. 

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What Are The Signs Of Nomophobia?

Since Nomophobia is not a diagnosable condition yet, no specific signs and symptoms are listed. However, as per the symptoms reported by the majority of individuals, the common signs of Nomophobia include the following:

  • feeling anxious at the thought of not being around your phone,
  • having physical symptoms like racing heartbeat, anxiety, agitation, etc., in the absence of your phone,
  • not being able to leave your phone behind whenever your go,
  • getting anxious about your phone’s battery dying out,
  • feeling helpless without your phone, or
  • checking it constantly.

So how do you know if you have Nomophobia or not? Well, pretty conveniently, actually. As per CNN, there is an online survey out there to check whether you have the condition or not. 

It asks users to rate the listed statements on how strongly they relate to them. 

If you score anywhere between 21 and 60, you might have a mild case of Nomophobia. If your scores lie between 61 and 99, you are actually pretty dependent on your phone. If your score is beyond 100, you have definite anxiety in the absence of your phone.

Treatment Options

Fortunately, there are multiple ways to tackle Nomophobia. If you find yourself addicted to your phone, it is important to follow it up with your general practitioner, who might further direct you to an experienced professional. 

While there are no specified treatment options for Nomophobia, an experienced professional might use a treatment plan used to treat similar phobias. This might include behavioral therapy, medications, and support groups.

If you feel that your dependence on the phone is not that much of an issue as it does not consume every part of your being, you can simply start practicing restraint. Try to switch your phone off for a while to give yourself a break. Balance the time you spend on the phone with other social activities, and try not to use it at the beginning and end of your days. 

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Nomophobia, or the fear of being away from your mobile phones, is a growing medical issue among people. First marked in 2010, Nomophobia is a result of the increasing centrality of mobile phones in everyday human life. 

While it might sound like all of us have a little bit of Nomophobia, that is certainly not the case. Yes, we might be overtly dependent on our mobile phones. But you only have Nomophobia if your mobile addiction significantly hampers your daily life. If that is the case, actively seeking help is necessary.

While Nomophobia is one end of the spectrum, there is another troubling end. Technophobia, or the fear of technology, is defined by a characteristic dislike toward accepting technology. To learn more about it, click here.

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