Published: 10/08/2014 - Updated: 10/18/2018
What could sound absurd is catching the attention of experts. This is a problem believed to affect the majority of the population, and is called nomophobia; the fear of your cellphone not working.
This isn’t necessarily a constantly latent fear or terror. Nomophobia’s symptoms are usually considered to be terrible anxiety, anguish, and discomfort from being far away from your mobile device or computer. This could be from malfunctions, bad coverage, a dead batter, or simply from losing the device.
Nomophobia is not limited to just being out of contact with your cellphone. It could also include other forms of technology, and it is believed to be an illness derived from addiction, like an addiction to internet because in today’s world, using these devices plays an important part in our lives, our habits, and our behaviors.
All of us can experience anxiety or worry about losing our mobile device. There is a line between healthy and ill, and with continual technological advances, it is now difficult to establish where this line is.
Nomophobia – is it a real phobia?
Nomophobia is due to a recent phenomenon which is the excessive use of internet-based technology. Even though it is still being studies, it is not part of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM). A new study, however, has caught the attention of experts and could prompt this disease to be included in the DSM which has already been proposed.
The word nomophobia is not derived from a Greek word as most phobias are. Its name is rather, a combination of the words “no mobile”.
Experts today study the impact that excessive use of technology, like mobile devices, could have on health. While nomophobia seems like a strange idea, it is new and very possible because new phobias develop with the development of new technology. The illnesses related to the use of 21st century technology are called technopathy.
Nomophobia is not currently recognized as a phobia, however, excessive cellphone use has been found to modify our brain’s function and to cause what is known as an addiction. This means that we would be dependent on checking our device and therefore, symptoms like anxiety could appear from being away from our phone, or unable to use our cell phones.
On the other hand, some clinical cases suggest that a mobile device could generate a feeling of security, which is to say, it creates a sensation of being connected and being able to get out of any situation, like calling 9-1-1 or someone we know, if necessary. The truth is, however, that if it works this way, we shouldn’t experience fear from not having our cellphones nearby if we aren’t in any dangerous situation. But apparently, if our mobile device gives us a sense of security, it could be possible then that by being without it we feel unprotected, a situation that, according to experts, is not normal.
People affected by nomophobia
The term Nomophobia was coined in 2010 when a study was done in the United Kingdom to try to define the fear of being apart from one’s cellphone. The objective was to determine how many people experienced this.
The study revealed that 55% of participating individuals suffered from this “phobia”. In a more recent study, however, this percentage had increased to 66%. This tendency seems to be increasing, and youth from 18 to 30 years of age are the most affected groups.
It is estimated that in the United States around 58% of cellphone users check their phone at least once every hour, and a large majority of people use their phone even while in bed, or in the shower. Also, 73% of users admitted to feeling panic when they lost their phone.
How to treat this cellphone “dependence”?
With the arrival of smartphones, a lot of us have grown used to doing all sorts of tasks on our mobile device, from checking email to reading E-books.
Just a few changes in the way we use our cellphones, however, could help us limit this anxiety from being away from them.
- Avoid checking it an hour before bed and up to an hour after waking up.
- Keep your phone in your pocket or purse, no not carry it in your hand, especially when driving or doing any activity that requires all of your attention.
- Opt for reading printed texts, like a book, before going to bed, rather than going back to an electronic book.
- Turn the sound off, or program your mobile phone so that is doesn’t ring after a certain time before going to bed. Ask your partner to do the same, so that the ringer does not distract you or tempt you to check your phone.
- Limiting your children’s use of this type of technology is also advisable. In today’s world it has become a very important part of the social aspect of our lives. We need to learn the difference between being healthy, and using it too much. Kids are often times more susceptible to developing these types of addictions.
For the generated anxiety, you could use pharmaceuticals or see a psychotherapist.