Do you have nomophobia?
Phones have become nearly indispensable in people’s daily lives.
They are used to post on social media, take photos and record videos, as well as for driving directions, doing math, playing games and making phone calls. Being away from your phone, even for a short time, can cause anxiety, and there’s a name for that.
It’s called nomophobia, or “no-mobile-phone phobia.” It’s a term coined by a study that looked at the anxieties of mobile phone users who fear being without their phones.
To help better understand this phenomenon, researchers from Iowa State University developed a two-part study to help understand the dimensions of nomophobia. They also developed a questionnaire to measure the severity of the condition.
A small number of college students were interviewed to identify four dimensions to nomophobia – not being able to communicate, losing connectedness, not being able to access information and giving up convenience.
Study leaders were then able to use these findings to build a 20-statement questionnaire that was administered to 301 undergraduate students. The questionnaire included statements such as “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,” or “Running out of battery in my smartphone would scare me.”
Each participant was asked to rate each statement from one (strongly disagree) to seven (strongly agree).
Study leaders were able to quantify the severity of nomophobia through their research.
“As people start relying more on their smartphones, they get used to the luxury and convenience they provide and they simply do not want to give up on that,” lead study author Caglar Yildirim said in a news release. “I was shocked by how many times people said they would feel naked if they didn’t have their phone today with me.”
Yildrim wanted to stress that this is not an addiction; instead, it’s a situational phobia.
Recognizing the problem is the first step towards a bigger breakthrough. Researchers plan to look at other psychological traits, gender and age to better understand who is susceptible to nomophobia. A better understanding will be able to help experts develop methods for smartphone use.
Dr. Gabrielle Roberts, a clinical psychologist at Advocate Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn, Ill. recommends people set limitations to help them counteract their dependency to the devices.
“Creating rules and boundaries around electronics for everyone is not only a good strategy for limiting device use, but more importantly, it can create more opportunities for quality interactions with people, which are essential to healthy development,” says Dr. Roberts.
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