Nomophobia: Everything You Need To Know About Phone Addiction
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No one can deny the fact that smartphones or mobile phones have become an omnipresent part of this modern era. Previously, the phone was just a communication mode.
Nowadays, you can do anything on the phone like attend meetings, do online shopping, set up a weekly calendar, organize your day, do online banking, and you can even do your official work through your phone.
However, sometimes it becomes an addiction! Phone addiction is harmful to mental health and physical health. Nomophobia is the term used for describing the fear of being without a phone. Nomophobia includes losing, breaking, forgetting your phone, and outside of mobile phone contact.
Nomophobia is a growing concern worldwide wherein people are always connected with their phones. Without the phone, people experience stress and anxiety in the worst cases they also experience panic attacks or fear. This is a sign of problematic smartphone use that has impacts on mental health and overall wellbeing.
This blog covers everything you need to know about nomophobia.
What is Nomophobia?
When being without your phone makes you anxious or panicked can be termed as Nomophobia. If being without your feelings feels like isolation or loneliness…then you might have signs of nomophobia.
Nomophobia is the form of an abbreviation that means “no–mobile-phone phobia.” Nomophobia was termed in 2008 in a study commissioned by the UK Postal Office. Nomophobia is basically characterized by anxiety when people are not in connection with their phones due to any reason.
Study shows that the impact of nomophobia is so strong that various people don’t even turn off their phone even in the night. A study revealed that half of the people keep connected with the phone as they want to be in touch with family and friends.
Meanwhile, some of the counts showed that when people are not connected with their phones, it makes them anxious. This is generally “fear of missing out on something (FOMO)”. This also revealed that people would reply to a text or call even if they were stuck in something else.
I researched a lot of articles but I think the research is limited as of now but nomophobia is quite common and can be easily observed. I found one study from India which shows that more than 22% of participants had severe symptoms of nomophobia. Meanwhile, 60% of participants had moderate symptoms of nomophobia.
Symptoms of Nomophobia:
If I talk about nomophobia, it is a kind of anxiety disorder that is exemplified by an irrational fear of a situation or an object. In nomophobia, the fear is related to the connection with the phone. According to a study, symptoms of Nomophobia generally occurred in teenagers and young adults.
Nomophobia does not come under clinical diagnosis, below are some symptoms of nomophobia that can be included to identify this fear:
- Unable to turn off the phone
- Constant checking of the phone for calls, messages, or emails
- Charging up better even when not required
- Taking phone everywhere, even in the washroom
- Continuously checking the phone in pocket or purse
- Fear of being without Wi-Fi connectivity or unable to connect with a data network
- Always worried with negative thoughts and unable to call for help
- Stressing over being disconnected from online identity and presence
- Skipping activities that do not include phone
- Skipping events and parties to stay on the phone
If I talk about cognitive, physical, and emotional symptoms, they are:
- Fast breathing
- Pounding heartbeat
- Increased sweating
- Shaking or trembling
- Feeling weak and dizzy
- Panic attack (in rare cases)
Characteristics of Nomophobia
Nomophobia is centered on:
- Unable to communicate with others
- Feeling disconnected generally
- Unable to access important information
- Always giving up excuses
People who experience nomophobia, constantly check their phones, take their phone everywhere, spend many hours on the phone, and experience helplessness when they are without their phones.
This is connected with an increment in anxiety, stress, and depression. Excessive phone usage has negative impacts like increased anxiety, decreased grades, less satisfaction, and a reduced sense of overall well-being.
Causes of Nomophobia:
There are various causes of nomophobia, below are some common causes:
1. Usefulness for daily activities
The usefulness of smartphones plays an important role in nomophobia. Smartphones can do too much, they can do almost everything. And after lockdown, due to WFH smartphone usage has increased.
It is clear why people fear being without their phones after this statement. Nowadays, being without a phone cuts off people and it leads to isolation from professional and personal life.
2. Amount of use every day
It has been reported in a study that an average college-going student spends 9 hours on the phone. This represents the paradox of technology. Indeed, smartphones can be both oppressing and freeing. People can communicate, organize, and socialize but at the same time, it leads to restricting dependence, and stress.
4. Familiar with technology
Smartphone separation anxiety is highly observed in young adults and teens as they are born and brought up in the age of digitalism. Computers, laptops, tablets, the internet, smartphones have become an integral part of life.
Treatment of Nomophobia
If you or your loved ones are experiencing the symptoms of nomophobia, consulting with a certified mental health provider can really help in such a situation.
As of now, there is no designated treatment for nomophobia; however, your assigned therapist may suggest cognitive behavioral therapy, exposure therapy, or both for addressing all of your issues. In some instances, the therapist might also prescribe medication for compressing the symptoms of anxiety and depression.
1. Exposure Therapy
Exposure therapy is related to behavioral techniques wherein the person learns to face his/her fears directly. For treating nomophobia, the person progressively begins to get used to going without their phone. Also, they start with a very small period of time without a phone and then eventually increase for a long period of time without a phone.
2. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is a procedure with the involvement of negative and irrational thinking patterns which lead to maladaptive behaviors. The therapist helps in the identification of negative thinking patterns and helps in replacing them with more rational and realistic thinking.
As of now, there are no FDA-approved medicines for the treatment of fear of being without a phone. However, the therapist might prescribe anti-anxiety or antidepressants for addressing some of the symptoms.
Coping Strategies for Nomophobia
If you think you or your loved one are experiencing nomophobia, you must consult with a therapist first. After the consultation, you can follow these self-care strategies to cope with Nomophobia.
1. Setting Boundaries
Setting boundaries means establishing rules for your smartphone usage. This directly means avoiding your phone usage at a certain time in the day, especially during bedtime or mealtime.
2. Finding balance
It is easy to not use your phone when you are face-to-face with people. Try to focus on the details of communication, try to notice everything around you, and in this way try to avoid your phone as much as you can.
3. Taking Short Breaks
It is really tough to break a habit but with the 21\90 rule, it is completely possible to adapt a new good habit. Therefore, start by doing small things. Try to take a short break from your phone by leaving your phone in another room. Or you can also try reading books when you want to take a short break.
Below are some recommendations for books:
- 9 books that make you feel less lonely
- Books to help you combat loneliness
- Therapist-approved books for self-help
- 10 Self-improvement books
- Best coloring books
- 30+ Best motivational books
- 10 Best Psychology Books
- Best Mindfulness Books
4. Finding other ways to occupy your free time
If you feel that you’re using your phone out of boredom then replace your boredom with some other activities like reading, cooking, playing, or engaging in a hobby.
5. Take some fresh air
Whenever you feel you’re using your phone excessively, keep it aside, wear your shoes, and go for a nature walk. Feel mindful, get some fresh air, and treat yourself with fresh juice.
6. Connect physically with family or friends
Instead of connecting with friends or family members virtually, start going out in places that you love with them. Also, do not forget to leave your device in the car or home.
I hope this blog helps you to understand nomophobia, its symptoms, and its dealing strategies. Many People decided to stop using mobile phones completely but it’s not a realistic solution. We recommend you to have small breaks from your phone and engage with in-person activities.
But if you can’t stop yourself worrying about your phone and it starts affecting your daily life, we suggest you to Consult with a Therapist.
Frequently Asked Questions About Nomophobia:
1. Is Nomophobia really a serious problem?
As of now, Nomophobia is not classified as an official mental health disorder. However, research shows that this phobia is a growing concern and it can impact mental health negatively specially in a young generation.
2. Who does Nomophobia usually affect?
According to a survey conducted by SecurEnvoy, it resulted that young adolescents and adults are more prone towards experiencing Nomophobia. Moreover, it also showed that 77% of teens experienced worries and anxiety without using their phones.
3. What is the opposite of Nomophobia?
The opposite of Nomophobia is Telephonophobia which means terror or phobia of talking on the phone.
4. How many hours should I use my phone?
According to the research, experts quoted that adults should limit their screen time and it should be less than two hours a day.
5. What are the dangers of Nomophobia?
The signs and symptoms observed in the cases of Nomophobia are respiratory alterations, perspiration, disorientation, agitation, anxiety, trembling, and tachycardia.
6. How common is Nomophobia?
According to the research, it shows that around 66 Percent of all adults experience nomophobia.
7. How many hours of phone usage is considered as phone addiction?
According to a study, people generally spend around 3 hours and 15 minutes a day. And according to a survey, screen time should be limited to less than two hours a day. Therefore, if you are using your phone for more than 3 hours a day, you can consider it as an addiction.
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Thanks for reading!