This is how a typical scenario of a group therapy for one of the contemporary addictions, described as the fear of being out of mobile contact, would most probably start.
The term nomophobia is an abbreviation for “no-mobile phobia” and was popularized in a report on the anxieties suffered by mobile phone users, issued in 2010 by YouGov, a UK-based research organization. Nomophobes are afraid of being physically separated from their mobile phones – because of losing them, being robbed, or even simply leaving them at home. What is more alarming, they dread losing the signal, or running out of battery power. Both of these groups, however, come down to the fear of being out of mobile contact with others, or the network. A survey on 3800 people by Cisco proved that 9 out of 10 people aged under 30 admit to feeling nomophobic. According to the YouGov study, as much as two-thirds of the U.K public suffer from nomophobia. What are its symptoms, then?
You can trace nomophobic behaviours almost anywhere – walking down the street, travelling, or in the most private areas of your own home.
The most spectacular nomophobic group behaviour can be spotted at an airport, when masses of people who have just landed nervously pull out and turn on their precious mobile phones. A survey on 1,600 managers and professionals by Harvard Business School found that 70% of the respondents checked their phones within an hour of getting up, while another 56% within an hour of going to sleep! A shocking 48% checked them even over the weekend, including on Friday and Saturday nights! Finally, 44% said they would experience “a great deal of anxiety” it they lost their phone and couldn’t replace it for a week. These numbers and situations show how serious the problem is.
Nomophobia, like the majority of emotional and behavioural disorders, makes it easier for us to push boundaries. According to a survey of 310 American mobile users, carried out by Mobile Marketing Association in 2012, more than a half of Americans take calls while using the bathroom, and 6% take calls or text “in the alcove”!
There are several dangerous physical side effects of nomophobia. If you suffer from any of them, you should be alarmed.
According to the Mobile Marketing Association survey, 64% of Americans sleep with their mobile phone in the bed or by their bedside, a half of them check their device at least once a night, whereas 9% check it five or more times! These bad habits have significantly lowered the quality of the sleep, leading to overnight messages waking them up. What is worse, many nomophobes text unconsciously, without waking up and even remembering it.
Using mobile devices shorter than two hours before going to sleep can deregulate our body clock. Our functioning revolves around day-and-night cycles, which, in turn, are dependent on sunlight. Bright light informs our brain of the time of the day and prevents us from falling asleep in the middle of lunch. However, the way our phone screens glow into our eyes, resembles the sunshine to the extent that we may find it difficult to go to sleep at night.
In the vast majority of cases we use our mobile phones keeping them in our hands, with our arms bent at the elbows. No matter if we are standing or sitting, we look at the screen downwards, craning our necks, and remaining in this fixed position for longer periods. Such posture leads to the turtleneck syndrome, which is manifested by chronic pain and stress within the neck area. The forward head position, as it is also called, heavily burdens the spine, giving it an unnatural shape. Forced bodily positions may lead to serious health problems!
Phantom vibration syndrome
Sometimes you think you have just heard your phone ringing, so you check it only to find out that you have no missed call or message alerts. With so many sound around us, however, it is easy to mishear them. But if you feel the vibration of your mobile phone somewhere on you and you reach to your pocket, or bag to realize that it is not there, you must be suffering from a phantom vibration syndrome. Although not particularly harmful, it may become really irritating at times.
From nomophobia to business
Nomophobia, as any problem, has driven businesses to offer its sufferers solutions.
One such product is an application that has been designed to help nomophobes track and monitor their compulsive behaviours. The app, which is installed as a homescreen widget, measures the time between shutting the screen of your mobile phone off and checking it again.
The widget on the homescreen of your mobile phone tells you how long you have lasted without checking it. You can also view the graph of phone addiction and read your stats.
Another example involves a hotel offering a “Black Out Digital Detox” package. Those guests who have chosen this particular offer are asked to surrender their electronic devices on checking in for the whole stay. In return they get a set of board games, or a map of the area with labels for tourist routes and places worth visiting, as well as other attractive “digital hole” fillers.
Do you feel nomophobic?
If you feel nomophobic, but you are not sure whether you are already addicted, take our “Are you a nomophobe” test and find out!
This post was originally published on ActiveMobi.