Precisely how you are reading this article could prove that you suffer from Nomophobia
You most likely suffer from Nomophobia if you are reading this article on your smartphone. Psychologists have been studying the phenomenon of smartphone addiction since 2010 and have coined the phrase Nomophobia to describe the epidemic. Global studies agree that around 66% of people living in industrialized countries suffer Nomophobia.
But what is Nomophobia? Nomophobia means “no-mobile-phobia.” It means you feel afraid without having your smartphone device with you at all times! Now, it is possible that you feel a little defensive when you read an accusation that you are some kind of addict. However, if you compare yourself to any of the following stats, you will have to admit that you are indeed under the spell of Nomophobia.
You will find more statistics at Statista
Does the following sound like you?
According to a Post Office UK study of 2,163 participants, 53% of smartphone users experience symptoms of anxiety when they lose their mobile phone, run out of battery/credit, or lose network coverage. How do you feel when you experience one of these?
Also according to the stats, you are more likely to feel anxious about the above things if you are male. 58% of male participants, compared to 47% of females surveyed suffer from Nomophobia.
When the researchers compared the measured stress levels of participants, they discovered something shocking. People with Nomophobia experience the same degree of anxiety as the average person anticipating a dentist visit!
A further 2016 study showed that 44% of smartphone users panicked at the idea of going a single day without their device. 23% admitted that they couldn’t go more than a few minutes between checking for notifications. Shockingly, 3% of study participants admitted to falling asleep with their device still in their hand!
What defines Nomophobia?
Iowa State University broke the criteria defining Nomophobia into four key areas:
- Not being able to communicate with people
- Losing a sense of “connectedness” to the world
- Losing access to instant information
- No longer able to experience the “convenience”
The worst demographic to suffer Nomophobia is iGen, the generation who were still in their early teens when smartphones were introduced.
Jean M. Twenge is a researcher who has been studying generational trends for 25 years. She coined the term “iGen” after studying the activities of this group. These young people have lived their entire lives in an internet run world and never have known any different.
Your brain with a smartphone addiction
Dr. David Greenfield, Assistant Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at the University of Connecticut School of Medicine, suggests that Nomophobia is an offshoot of internet addiction, which has been around for the past couple of decades.
Greenfield has studied what happens to the human brain when it is addicted to smartphones. He goes so far as to compare the addiction to that of drugs or gambling.
Greenfield explains that these addictions are the same as they all “invoke a dysregulation of dopamine.“ Dopamine is a hormone that makes us feel motivated, and it is part of our brain’s reward system. Whenever we receive a notification on our smartphone, we get a shot of dopamine.
This shot of dopamine into our blood stream motivates us to pick up our phone and check the source of the notification. We hope to receive some kind of compelling information or rewarding connection from someone.
In this way, Greenfield explains, our smartphones are like miniature “slot machines” that we sit with from the moment we wake, till the moment we sleep, hoping to hit the jackpot with.
How can you break the addiction?
The Chinese created a boot camp for internet addicted teens. Camp Grounded in the US invites adults to come to experience a grownup’s version of a summer camp sans devices for a few days. People clearly see the damage that their Nomophobia is inflicting upon their lives.
According to Tim Elmore of Psychology Today, technology should serve you, and not be your master. The only things to “control” us should be the drive to seek food, water, and shelter. If anything else controls us, it is time to take stock and take that control back!
Elmore suggests the following to help you take back control of your life from Nomophobia:
- Set aside time in the day for having a face-to-face conversation, or solitude, during which your smartphone is switched off.
- Balance screen time. For every hour on a device, spend an equal hour off the device.
- Go on a technology fast. Pick a day of the week to switch that smartphone off for 24 hours. The liberation will become just as addictive!
- Sleep with your smartphone on the other side of the room. Additionally, this will have the bonus of helping you to wake up better, as you will have to get out of bed to press snooze!
- Create “time zones” for your day, and allocate specific zones to smartphone use, and other zones to real life human interaction.