Nomophobia: What is it and what are the warning signs?
Nomophobia is defined as the irrational fear of being without your mobile phone or being unable to use your phone for some reason. This can be having no signal or running out of data or battery power.
The term was first coined by Patrick O’Neill after he went for dinner with his friends and was shocked by their addiction to their mobile devices.
Do you have Nomophobia?
If you experience fear and anxiety when you’re not on the grid and obsessively check your phone, you could be suffering from nomophobia. The key warning signs include constantly carrying a charger, feeling anxious and constantly thinking about the idea of running out of battery, constantly checking for messages and sleeping with your phone very close to you at all times.
Other warning signs of nomophobia include :
Reaching for your mobile as soon as you wake up and right before bed.
Scrolling through social media, catching up on emails or the news while you’re eating.
Perking up as soon as you hear your phone alert go off.
You’ve checked your phone already while reading this article.
Why do we get Nomophobia?
Nomophobia is a condition still in need of many studies, but it seems increasingly evident that the attachment we have to our phones is becoming more and more prevalent. Scientists from the City University in Hong Kong claim that people are so reliant on their phones and their gadgets store so many of their memories of them that they’ve grown emotionally attached to them.
We are being more and more addicted to tech. As humans, our state survival works on a simple reward system. Every time you have a biological requirement like food or sex, for example, the body releases a neurotransmitter called ‘dopamine’. This helps us decide the approach to something to be rewarded. Once you start using a piece of technology, like your mobile phone, you start to like it and the release of dopamine in the brain creates a reward system for it. This leads to an addiction to it and an anxiety for losing it or being without it.
What should you do if you think you have Nomophobia?
If you think you are suffering from Nomophobia and that the attachment you have to your mobile phone is affecting your quality of life, it may be time to go on a “digital detox”. This basically means switching off, literally, from your mobile phone. The first steps for this are.
Turn off your mobile off an hour before bed
This will give your brain time to unwind and commit to turning off your phone an hour before bedtime at least.
Only look at your phone at certain times
Designating certain times to glance at your smartphone, text your friends back or update social media can help you find a more healthy balance with your mobile phone. Once every 4 hours should be more than enough.
Establish phone-free zones
Mealtimes are a good place to start with this. Instead of scrolling and chewing, you can practice mindful eating and engaging conversation.
Humans are social creatures – and we thrive on human interaction. Your mobile cannot replicate this, so if you think you’re spending too much time on your phone, it’s likely that you are. Even if you don’t feel like you have Nomophobia or an addiction, stepping away from something at the first sign of reliance is the best way to prevent it from developing.