Nomophobia—the Biggest Fear in the World?

Nomophobia—the Biggest Fear in the World?
Have this post read to you in a natural voice:

What’s the biggest fear in the world? No, it’s not the fear of snakes, neither is it the fear of spiders. It’s not even the fear of spider-snakes—if such a thing actually exists. The biggest fear in the world is much worse, more horrendous, more mind bogglingly incredulous. The biggest fear in the world is the fear of separation from your mobile phone!

Cue the chilling soundtrack in the background. Alfred Hitchcock would have been proud.

Can you imagine anything worse than being separated from your phone? The answer is “No” for up to 66% of us, according to a study conducted by SecurEnvoy in the UK. This number is up from the 53% registered by a 2008 study.

So what other eye popping findings did this study unearth among us?

Young adults, those aged between 17 and 25, tended to be the most addicted demographic with 77% of them admitting to being unable to stay apart from their phones for more than a few minutes.

Their older siblings, adults aged 25-34, showed the second highest rate of nomophobia with 68% addiction.

Another finding, one which will definitely sound more sinister in your head than it does when you actually do it: On average, people check their phone 34 times a day, and 75% of us use the phone in the bathroom.

You now have one more reason to keep your hands away from other people’s mobile phones and tablets—they’ve quietly replaced the good old newspaper.

In the first study done in 2008, it was men who shuffled their feet uncomfortably when they turned out to be the more afflicted. But the new study acknowledges a reversal and points to women as the more afflicted.

Let’s ignore the correlation with the rise of the selfie; and turn instead to the symptoms shown by those who suffer this terrible malaise.

Symptoms of Nomophobia

Like all phobias, nomophobia can cause various mental and physical symptoms including:

  • Sweaty palms, shallow breathing, and an elevated heart rate.
  • Nomophobics will obsess over their phones and will go to great lengths to protect it. Also, they will keep checking their phones every now and then for messages and or to check the battery life.
  • They will never unplug and disconnect. They will ensure that their phones are always charged in order to never go without. Afraid of being without their phone, many are known to keep multiple phones.
  • Most nomophobics will go into full-fledged panic attack when separated from their phones for extended periods of time.
  • They are likely to use their phones anywhere they deem fit, no matter how inappropriate.
  • Their extreme attachment to their phones usually gets in the way of their relationships with those around them, and interferes with activities at the office or school. It’s common to find nomophobes to be loners who commonly experience problems dating or maintaining relationships.
  • Majority of those who suffer from this nomophobia are quite aware that something is wrong, but they remain incapable of controlling themselves. As a result, their mental and physical wellbeing suffers.

Not many researchers recommend a congressional hearing to check into the “problem” just yet. According to Robert Weiss, a senior vice president of clinical development at Elements Behavioral Health, a Long Beach, California addiction treatment center, nomophobia should not be characterized as an addiction.

“[There’s] a lot of fear of technology,” says Weiss, “Fear that [mobile devices are] going to hurt our youth, fear that we are not going to be able to keep up. And I think that it is all a bunch of crap.”

According to Weiss, our smartphones of today help us develop bonds in a different way.

“I think that people are very attracted to and appreciate the fact that their devices give them interaction. When you take a device away from them … what they’re jonesing for is their friendship and relationships.”

So what do you think?

Do you think you have a cause for worry? Or is your phone just your best means for staying on top of the never ending conversation between you and your friends?