The rise of nomophobia

Smartphones have greatly increased in number as has our need to have them nearby:

Nomophobia is a term describing a growing fear in today’s world — the fear of being without a mobile device, or beyond mobile phone contact. Among today’s high school and college students, it’s on the rise. An increasing number of college students now shower with their cell phone. The average adolescent would rather lose a pinky-finger than a cell phone. A growing percentage text or tweet instead of actually talking to others.

Nomophobia is everywhere in industrialized nations. The term is an abbreviation for “no-mobile-phone phobia,” which was coined during a 2010 study by the UK Post Office. The Post Office commissioned YouGov, a research organization, to look at anxieties suffered by mobile phone users. The study found that nearly 53 percent of mobile phone users in Britain tend to be anxious when they “lose their mobile phone, run out of battery or credit, or have no network coverage.”

The study found that about 58 percent of men and 47 percent of women suffer from the phobia, and an additional 9 percent feel stressed when their mobile phones are off. The study sampled 2,163 people. Fifty-five percent of those surveyed cited keeping in touch with friends or family as the main reason that they got anxious when they could not use their mobile phones. The study compared stress levels induced by the average case of nomophobia to be on par with those of “wedding day jitters” and trips to the dentist…

A full 66 percent of all adults suffer from “nomophobia.”

Unfortunately, this article is short on citing reputable sources outside of one YouGov study in the UK. However, I have seen other similar findings trickle out in recent years.

As I’ve noted before, if this behavior becomes widespread, particularly among normal adults, is it really a problem or phobia? Perhaps the more unusual people are the ones without smartphones or Facebook accounts (they do occasionally pop  up in the college student population) who also may feel odd: peer pressure to join, missing out on information that everyone else seems to have, paying attention to other things more than new technology.

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