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Introducing Nomophobia: Phone Addiction Resulting to Phone Separation Anxiety

nomophobia or the fear of not having a phone/ Photo By Eviart via Shutterstock

 

The cellphone was once a device that has been merely used for texting and calling. Then, it evolved. From having keypads to making it fully touchscreen, wi-fi connection enabled and downloadable apps, the phone went from just a communication to a device and a necessity that most could not live without.

A study has explored the rise of a new phobia developed by the current society’s addiction to smartphones. It is known as nomophobia or the fear of not having a phone. It is also recognized as phone separation anxiety.

According to a survey done by Common Sense Media, 50% of teenagers have an addiction to their mobile devices. There is also a research that shows 33% of people age 18 were seen texting while driving, while only 29% of people ages 34 to 35 were found engaging in the same reckless activity.

What is Nomophobia?

Nomophobia is simply a the shortened version of  “no more phone phobia” and it refers to the condition where an individual experiences anxiety and feels extremely uncomfortable without their phone as elaborated by Global News.

The study conducted by researchers of Sungkyuwan University from Hong Kong showed that people are attached to their phones because it has become a device where they could store their most precious memories and an extension of themselves.

In their research, they discovered that people who used their phones to store their memories, share them and have access to them were the ones most affected by nomophobia.

Dr. Kim Ki Joon, head of the research, concluded, “... users perceive their smartphones as their extended selves and get attached to the devices. People experience feelings of anxiety and unpleasantness when separated from their phone.” Since phones contain all the tiny details of a person’s life, this has led people to phone proximity seeking behaviors.

 

Symptoms

Mzurii states that the symptoms that one is suffering from nomophobia include: Constantly checking their phone, not being able to switch their phone, frequently making sure that their phone’s battery is fully charged and bringing the phone to their bathroom.

 

Constantly checking  phone is one of the symptoms of nomophobia/ Photo By Milan Ilic Photographer via Shutterstock

 

What Causes It?

It was revealed by Professor Mark Griffiths, a psychologist, that it is what was on the phone that caused the fear. Social media makes people acquire the fear of missing out (fomo).

“People don’t use their phones to talk to other people--we are talking about an internet connected device that allows people to deal with lots of aspects of their lives. You would have to surgically remove a phone from a teenager because their whole life is ingrained in this device,” Griffiths declares.

Almost every event is experienced by posting them on social media such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat. The social media apps on the phone are the channels of the majority connect to the world and what is happening, The Guardian states.

Therefore, the loss of the phone or not being able to access it when desired can make an individual panic because it equates to both losing their memories as well as not being updated with other people’s lives.

According to Scientific American, because phones also store important information that they need without them having to recall it verbatim, it has made people rely on their own memoryless. In addition, since the phone could help with virtually anything like finding your way through a location via Google maps, people have been too dependent on their phones. It is further elaborated that for getting and keeping information, the brain treats the phone like it is its relationship partner that compliments it.

 

bad posture is a side effect of cell phone addiction/ Photo By iko via shutterstock

 

Harmful Effects of Cell Phone Addiction

CNN pointed out that aside from a person’s dependency on their phone, there are other negative effects to it too. There are reports that people get a text neck or the soreness that is an after-effect of staring down at their smartphone for extended durations. Bad posture was also a noted side effect of cell phone addiction which leads to a person’s spine, feelings and even respiratory functions to be affected. Finally, the blue light given off by the phone is said to obstruct the production of melatonin which results into also preventing people from getting a good night’s sleep.

 

Can It Be Cured?

Here are some helpful tips to prevent a person’s nomophobia from growing worse. It is advised that the phone should be switched off at certain times of the day, such eating during the time an individual eats dinner with their family or in the middle of a work meeting. Another suggestion is to delete social media apps on the phone and only check them on the laptop. This would reduce a person’s urge to continually check their phone. People are also warned not to take their phones to bed since it emits a dangerous blue light that is harmful to their health. The last advice is to try to find other activities to substitute the time spent on their smartphones like meditation or socializing with others.

 

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