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Nomophobia – Why You Can’t Live Without Your Smartphone
You know that feeling when you reach into your pocket for your mobile – and get that immediate hot shock of panic when… it’s not there. Your heart races. Your stomach lurches. Your brain goes into overdrive. What to do? Dammit, you can’t even post your ‘missing mobile’ status or tweet about your loss.
You’ve just experienced nomophobia – ‘no-mobile phobia’ – the fear or being without, or losing, your mobile phone.
And this modern malaise affects many of us. No wonder, because our phone isn’t just our phone. It’s our digital security blanket – and it goes everywhere with us. Practically our entire lives are in those seductive little devices, so it’s no wonder we go a little crazy when we’re apart from them. But some of us take this separation anxiety too far.
It really exists – and it’s getting worse
A new study published in Computers in Human Behaviour suggests that nomophobia is indeed real – and that (unsurprisingly) the more you use your device, the more you depend on it.
Our device separation anxiety is on the increase, globally – so much so that a recent article in Psychology Research and Behavior Manual suggests including nomophobia in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, the standard classification of disorders used by mental health professionals.
Interestingly, women seem to feel mobile separation anxiety more than men. A study carried out on behalf of SecurEnvoy in the UK found that:
70 per cent of women worry about losing their mobile compared to 61 per cent of men.
Men are more likely to have two mobiles (hence, less worry?).
18- to 24-year-olds are the most nomophobic age group, with 77 per cent feeling uncomfortable after being separated from their phones for just minutes.
Nomophobia is up 13 per cent on an earlier study.
So what about you? You know you have nomophobia when:
1. You feel stressed out, cut off or incomplete without your mobile
More than 13 million Britons fear being out of mobile phone contact, according to research by telecoms company Stewart Fox-Mills. That’s more than half of all mobile users.
Eighty four percent of people surveyed in a TIME Mobility Poll said they couldn’t go even one day without their mobile. So, humans can survive for up to three weeks without food, and 3-7 days without water… but most of us can’t handle a day without our phones?
2. You suffer from phantom vibration syndrome
About 30 per cent of us have ‘heard’ non-existent ringing, while 80 per cent have imagined our phone vibrating in our pocket. Here’s why. (Perhaps not quite as embarrassing as actually hearing a phone ring and whipping out yours – only to discover that it wasn’t your phone going off…).
3. You compulsively check for updates, messages and battery life
Your battery might be down as low as 50 per cent, sparking a frantic search for a charger/free socket.
Or maybe someone tagged you in a post. Or 'X', who is ‘friends with Y’ liked your latest selfie. Or that text needs a response straight away. Whatever, you’ve just got to check. Now.
4. You have more than one phone
5. You always carry a charger
Or one of those extra-battery phone cases. No-brainer.
6. You’ve got FOMO
Fear of Missing Out has you picking up that phone even though you know it’ll just make you sicker. You can’t relax for fear that everyone else is having a better time than you, so you need to check what they’re up to – constantly. Vicious circle.
7. You use your phone in inappropriate places
- Seventy-five per cent of people polled for a SecurEnvoy survey admitted to using their phone while in the loo.
- A separate study on mobile mindsets, nine per cent said they had checked their phone while in church. Goodness!
- Others can’t resist doing so while driving, at the cinema, or in a meeting. Is there anywhere we won’t use our phones?
8. You avoid places where you can’t use it
You spend as little time as possible in no-mobile zones like airports, theatres, hospitals, schools and libraries, and any place without Wi-Fi or where the signal is iffy.
9. You keep it on 24/7
You just might miss that must-see snap your ‘friend’ posted on Facebook® of her beans on toast/small furry animal/painted toenails, or that Earth-stopping BuzzFeed post, We Can’t Stop Sleeping With Our Phones And We’re A Little Anxious About It. (What? Whoa, wait a minute. Let me just check that out…).
10. You sleep with it
In fact, a TeleNav study showed that one-third of people were so attached to their mobiles that they’d give up sex rather than give up their phones – iPhone users being the most smitten with their devices.
But taking your phone to bed is a bad idea for other reasons: it interferes with your sleep, keeping you up late and waking you during the night with those all-important notifications – meaning you won’t be at your shiny, happy best the next day.
11. You prefer to communicate via your phone than face to face
Sure, why bother to go out and meet your real, live pals when you can sit home and chat with your Facebook friends? (They’d only all be sitting around glued to their phones anyway.)
So, reckon you suffer from phone separation anxiety? Here’s what to do:
- Turn your phone off. Especially when you go to bed.
- Take it out of your pocket. Put it down. Back away.
- Distract yourself. Go for a walk (without your phone). Play with your dog. Visit a friend. (Yes, in real life. People still do that.)
- Try going without your mobile for short periods. Then longer ones.
- If you’ve got it really bad, see a counsellor who specialises in treating anxiety disorders.
Still can’t get a grip? Get a noPhone. With this mobile surrogate, not only will you have something to hold on to at all times, but you’ll never run out of credit – or battery. The noPhone is also shatterproof and ‘toilet-bowl resistant’, and will never need an upgrade. Just don’t expect it to make calls.
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