Over the past decade, mobile phone usage has continuously skyrocketed, especially after the advent of smartphones. It cannot be denied that these smart devices have become an important part of modern life. And thus, the rapidly emerging phobia is called Nomophobia.
The COVID-19 pandemic is the main reason for the increase in mobile phone usage because people are not allowed to leave their homes and they have to rely on their phones for communication, entertainment and information.
And as the old proverb says, “Everything in excess is bad.” This has also become true for smartphones. Nomophobia affects all ages but has become more common in adolescents.
So what exactly is Nomophobia? Is it treatable? Let’s find out!
What is Nomophobia?
A 2019 article in the Journal of Family Medicine and Primary Care describes it as “NOMOPHOBIA is emerging as a threat to us “social, mental as well as physical health.”
The term Nomophobia arises from NO Mobile Phone PhoBIA and it is a psychological condition in which people experience extreme, irrational and excessive fear of being without a mobile phone.
It identifies the fear that people experience when their mobile phone cannot perform the basic functions it was designed to provide.
This fear can be caused by many different factors, such as lack of network signal, weak signal, running out of battery, or leaving the phone at home or work.
People also tend to check their phones frequently for messages or notifications, and they may have difficulty concentrating or sleeping when they’re not using their phones.
It mainly affects individuals who rely heavily on technology for their daily activities. This phobia is not listed in the latest edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5).
DSM-5 is a manual published by the American Psychiatric Association that lists all mental disorders recognized by the medical community. However, there is growing evidence that nomophobia causes mental health concerns.
According to a 2016 study, it can be classified as “Smartphone Addiction Disorder.” Furthermore, researchers have proposed including a similar feature in DSM-5 for years.
Not only that, there are many terms related to Nomophobia such as:
- Ringing: A common phenomenon where people feel their phone is ringing or vibrating and it turns out to be a false alarm.
- Phonoanxiety: This is also known as telephone phobia, in which people often avoid talking on the phone.
- Phubbing: It refers to skipping face-to-face conversations with others and focusing only on your smartphone.
When was Nomophobia discovered?
The term Nomophobia was first coined in 2008 by the United Kingdom (UK) Post Office, which contracted the UK research agency YouGov to study anxiety levels in phone users mobile.
It was derived from a survey of 2163 British adults and is said to “fear of losing contact via cell phone.” Researchers found that 53% of them experienced symptoms of nomophobia, such as anxiety, panic attacks, and difficulty concentrating without their phones.
of the Post Office “telecommunications expert”Stewart Fox-Mills said:
“Nomophobia is all too real for many people.
“We are all familiar with stressful situations in everyday life such as moving house, breaking up and celebrating family Christmas.
But it seems the loss of mobile communications may be the 21st century’s latest contribution to our already busy lives.”
What is the cause of Nomophobia?
The exact cause of Nomophobia is unknown however a 2020 study published in the journal Computers in Human Behavior suggests that “Interpersonal sensitivity, obsessive-compulsiveness, and hours of smartphone use per day were strong predictors of nomophobia.”
The study also found that “Social threat is a causal pathway through which nomophobia leads to negative consequences, especially stress.”
How many people have Nomophobia?
A recent study by Counterpoint Research in collaboration with OPPO has stated that “72% of smartphone users in India are worried about low battery.”
The study divided into unpleasant emotions caused by low battery anxiety and there were six named categories:
- “Fear of missing out (FOMO)”
- “Not safe”
28% of respondents chose the first option, while 90% of users reported feeling more worried about low battery levels when their phone’s battery level was between 30% and 50%, compared to when level from 0% to 30%.
The survey found that 40% of respondents use their smartphones first thing in the morning, right after waking up, and last before going to bed.
Additionally, 42% of respondents use their devices for entertainment, with social media being the most popular activity.
87% of respondents use their phone while it is charging, and two-thirds of respondents use their phone even when they are spending time with family or working/studying.
Research director Tarun Pathak commented on concerns about low batteries “We carry our world in our pockets through our smartphones. From entertainment to official work to connecting with others, smartphones do almost everything for us.
“As a result, people develop a phobia about not being able to use their phones. Furthermore, social media is the top activity where smartphones are used, people are afraid of missing out on things around them.
“That’s why most people keep looking for charging opportunities and end up feeling anxious and worried at the thought of running out of battery and not being able to use their smartphone. The feeling of low battery anxiety is highest in the working age group 31-40, followed by the 25-30 group.”
Senior analyst Arushi Chawla said “NoMoPhobia has made it possible for everyone to decide on the right charging model. It is interesting to observe that most people depend on built-in device options like power saving mode to ensure longer battery life on a daily basis.
“In addition, because of people’s reliance on their phones, many (65%) limit their phone use to save battery life during more important moments, while 82% cut back on their use of media apps. social media like Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook to save battery.
“So the battery is an important factor when buying a smartphone. 60% of respondents are likely to replace their current smartphone for better battery performance.”
What are the symptoms of Nomophobia?
Nomophobia creates stress and here are some symptoms that may indicate signs of the phobia:
Anxiety: People with nomophobia may feel anxious, restless or irritable when unable to use their phone.
Stress: People with nomophobia may feel stressed, anxious or overwhelmed when they cannot use their phone.
Irritability: People with nomophobia can easily become irritable or upset when they cannot use their phone.
Physical symptoms: People with nomophobia may experience physical symptoms such as sweating, trembling, and rapid heartbeat when they are unable to use their phone.
What are the ways to prevent Nomophobia?
Nomophobia, or the fear of being without a cell phone, is not a medical condition. However, it can be prevented by implementing certain detoxification strategies. And people in America are also trying to limit their screen time.
According to a CNBC feature, sales of flip phones surged in 2022, with tens of thousands of units sold each month. At the same time, according to the company, HMD’s global feature phone sales have declined.
GenZ is returning to high levels of silent phone use just to minimize their screen time.
Additionally, one can follow these simple steps to minimize the risk of developing Nomophobia:
- Set limits on cell phone use
- Find other activities to occupy your time
- Please pay attention to your phone usage