A Psychologist Describes A New Phobia On The Rise: ‘Nomophobia’
Have you ever wondered what your life would be like without a smartphone? Some may envision a life of peace without distraction, whereas some may see a life with less convenience and connection.
Others, however, may feel terrified of the idea entirely. Psychological research has uncovered a new fear: “nomophobia”—where individuals become filled with dread, anxiety and panic at the thought of being without their smartphone.
To measure the severity of this phobia and its impact on daily life, researchers have developed a test designed to assess and diagnose nomophobia. This tool not only sheds light on the prevalence of this modern anxiety, but also prompts a broader discussion about our dependence on technology and its implications for mental well-being.
What Is “Nomophobia?”
Contracting the phrase “no mobile phone phobia,” research defines nomophobia as the fear of being detached from smartphone connectivity. While it is not yet considered a legitimate mental disorder like other specific phobias—such as fears of animals, storms, heights, etc.—nomophobia’s conceptualization is founded on definitions from the Diagnostic Manual of Mental Disorders.
The research outlines that symptoms of nomophobia include many of those seen in other specific phobias, such as anxiety, shaking, sweating, agitation and breathing difficulties. It was also found that those with low-self esteem and extraversion may be more prone to the overuse of smartphones, and therefore more likely to experience nomophobia.
According to one study, which aimed to review global statistics on the prevalence of the phobia, approximately 21% of the adult population suffers from severe nomophobia, and around 71% of the population has moderate nomophobia. The researchers revealed that college and university students seem to be the most impacted by the disorder, showing an alarming 25% prevalence.
Dealing with nomophobia can be incredibly challenging, given the ubiquitous role smartphones play in modern life. The constant connectivity they provide has become integral to daily routines, making the mere thought of separation a source of intense anxiety for many. This phobia not only induces immediate emotional distress, but can also contribute to long-term psychological effects that could affect overall well-being.
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How To Know If You Have “Nomophobia”
The need for tools and methods to identify nomophobia is becoming increasingly essential. The prevalence of the phobia suggests a broader societal shift towards technology dependency, raising questions about the potential consequences for mental health.
As modern problems require modern solutions, a study from Computers and Human Behavior sought to resolve the newfound need to identify and address nomophobia. Through their research, a questionnaire was developed and validated to diagnose nomophobia. To use this self-report measure, individuals rate each statement on a scale from “strongly disagree” to “strongly agree:”
- I would feel uncomfortable without constant access to information through my smartphone.
- I would be annoyed if I could not look information up on my smartphone when I wanted to do so.
- Being unable to get the news (e.g., happenings, weather, etc.) on my smartphone would make me nervous.
- I would be annoyed if I could not use my smartphone and/or its capabilities when I wanted to do so.
- Running out of battery in my smartphone would scare me.
- If I were to run out of credits or hit my monthly data limit, I would panic.
- If I did not have a data signal or could not connect to Wi-Fi, then I would constantly check to see if I had a signal or could find a Wi-Fi network.
- If I could not use my smartphone, I would be afraid of getting stranded somewhere.
- If I could not check my smartphone for a while, I would feel a desire to check it.
If I did not have my smartphone with me:
- I would feel anxious because I could not instantly communicate with my family and/or friends.
- I would be worried because my family and/or friends could not reach me.
- I would feel nervous because I would not be able to receive text messages and calls.
- I would be anxious because I could not keep in touch with my family and/or friends.
- I would be nervous because I could not know if someone had tried to get a hold of me.
- I would feel anxious because my constant connection to my family and friends would be broken.
- I would be nervous because I would be disconnected from my online identity.
- I would be uncomfortable because I could not stay up-to-date with social media and online networks.
- I would feel awkward because I could not check my notifications for updates from my connections and online networks.
- I would feel anxious because I could not check my email messages.
- I would feel weird because I would not know what to do.
The questionnaire covers four different fear factors of nomophobia: inability to communicate, loss of connection, inaccessibility to information and giving up convenience. Recognizing these patterns within oneself could be the first step towards a healthier relationship with technology and a better understanding of one’s own digital habits.
Identifying and addressing nomophobia is crucial—not only for our own mental health, but also for society at large. Consider taking a moment to reflect on these statements and assess your own feelings towards smartphone usage. Understanding the intricacies of your relationship with technology can empower you to make informed decisions and, if necessary, seek support in managing nomophobia. In a world where constant connectivity has become the norm, taking the time to evaluate the impact of this dependence can be a crucial aspect of maintaining your mental well-being.
Wondering if you suffer from nomophobia? Take the Nomophobia Questionnaire to find out: The Nomophobia Questionnaire