According to globally renowned publication, the Telegraph, 54 per cent of British people now fear being without their phone or being unable to use it in general, like if it runs out of battery or is misplaced. While many of us have experienced losing our phone or forgetting it when leaving the house once or twice, for many brits with Nomophobia, the fear of being without a phone, feel similar levels of anxiety when separated from their phone as they would on their wedding day, or before a trip to the dentist, as reported by Psychology Today.
According to Dr. Kim Ki Joon of the City University of Hong Kong and the original author of a study into phone separation anxiety, it has been shown that we now share a closer bond with your phone than you might realise. “The findings of our study suggest that users perceive smartphones as their extended selves and we tend to get attached to the devices, in a sense. “People experience feelings of anxiety and unpleasantness when separated from their phones.” says Dr Kim, as reported by the Guardian.
According to research, this new-found dependence on technology has important psychological consequences. For example, how research on transactive memory discovers that when we have reliable external sources of information about particular topics at our disposal, then it reduces our motivation and ability to acquire and retain knowledge about that particular topic specifically. In the past, the primary sources of information on which we could depend to outsource our knowledge have been other people. But now we have a source of near omniscience in our pockets. This research has since discovered that when it comes to the overall retention of information, particularly with students, our brains treat our devices like relationship partners. So perhaps it is not surprising that we should experience such distress when this relationship is lost, aka when you lose or misplace your phone.
Dr. Mark Griffiths of Nottingham Trent University, meanwhile, told the newspaper that nomophobia is a result of the centrality of phones to our daily lives. “We are talking about an internet-connected device that allows people to deal with lots of aspects of their lives,” Dr. Griffiths said. “You would have to surgically remove a phone from a teenager because their whole life is ingrained in this device.”
So now that we know what Nomophobia is, how can you tell if you have it? As reported by news network CNN, there’s actually an online questionnaire that may assist individuals on seeing if they have – or are at risk of developing it. The online survey asks it’s users to rate how strongly they agree with various statements, such as, “I would feel uncomfortable without constant access to information through my smartphone,” and “If I did not have my smartphone with me, I would feel weird because I would not know what to do.” If you score between 21 and 60, you’ve probably got a mild case of nomophobia. According to the questionnaire, if you score between 61 and 99, it’s likely that you’re generally pretty dependent on your phone, and accordingly, a score of over 100 suggests you experience severe anxiety without your phone.
If you do however begin to suspect that you might be addicted to your phone, professional Dr. Griffiths recommends that a trip to speak with your GP may be beneficial, who may end up directing you to a specialist addiction service. While if it’s not quite as all-consuming as that? The Guardian recommends reducing your dependency on your phone by deliberately turning it off for periods of time, or leaving it at home when you go out. Psychology Today also suggests that individuals attempt to balance the time they may be inclined to spend on theirphone with time spent around other people or doing outdoor activities.