Fear of Being Without a Mobile Phone Phobia – Nomophobia

Nomophobia is a proposed name for the phobia of being out of cellular phone contact. It is, however, arguable that the word “phobia” is misused and that in the majority of cases it is another form of anxiety disorder.[not in citation given]

Technology can be a blessing but also a curse. These days, most of us are constantly connected through high speed Internet on SmartPhones and/or mobile or tablets devices. Often, when these are taken away from us, we are left feeling a bit lost. Technology can thus also cause a lot of stress. Nomophobia is one such mental illness caused by technology, or lack of it. It is described, simply, as the extreme phobia or fear of being without a mobile phone or without a signal on one’s phone.

his relatively new phobia is known to affect nearly 53% of British men, women and teenagers owning a mobile. The word Nomophobia originates from British urban dictionary and was first used by British experts (My phone ‘no work no mo’) studying a group of test subjects that experienced anxiety attacks at the mere thought of losing their cell phone, or experiencing a weak signal or being kept away (for some reason) from their mobile device.

Causes of Nomophobia
The fear of being without a mobile phone stems from addiction. When a person feels physically or mentally dependent on anything, s/he cannot find a way of stopping that addiction.
People tend to experience this phobia when they are insecure, or have lack of self control and discipline, get easily bored or impatient, or have no other recreational hobbies and outlets etc.
Humans are social animals needing constant companionship and having the desire to talk and connect with others. Therefore, this phobia is not all that unnatural given the fact that cell phones are readily available everywhere and used by people of all ages today.
A person having had a negative experience upon being left without a cell phone could develop life-long Nomophobia.
Symptoms when you fear being without a mobile device
Like all other phobias, the fear of being without a cell phone can also cause various mental and physical symptoms including:

Having elevated heart rate, sweaty palms, shallow breathing.
Most phobics will go to great lengths to protect their phone. They will also keep checking the device every now and then for battery life and/or messages.
They will never unplug and disconnect. They will ensure charging the battery so as to never be left without a phone. Many are even known to keep multiple phones.
Majority of phobics experience a full-fledged panic attack when separated from their phone for long periods.
They might use the phone in any place they deem fit, no matter how inappropriate.

Their usage of phone often affects their relationships or even gets in the way of their work at school or office. Many Nomophobes are known to be loners or experience problems dating or maintaining relationships.
Most sufferers of this phobia realize that their fears are irrational and uncalled for; yet they are unable to control themselves. As a result, their health and mental well being also suffers.
Treating the fear of being without a mobile phone phobia
Overcoming this phobia can be challenging and while, medical intervention is not always needed, there are many options available. Gradual exposure therapy and systematic desensitization are known to be the best remedies for this phobia. Other options include hypnotherapy which can get to the bottom of the phobia and eradicate it completely. For worst cases of this phobia, anxiety medication may be required.

The patient must also take steps to overcome his/her fear. This includes developing or practicing self help coping techniques like yoga, positive visualizations, guided meditation, listening to soothing music and /or attending support group therapy sessions. One can learn to overcome panic attacks by practicing deep breathing or indulging in physical activities like aerobic exercise, swimming, dancing etc.

Another study found that out of 547 male, undergraduate students in Health Services, 23% of the students were classified as nomophobic, while an additional 64% were at risk of developing nomophobia. Of these students, approximately 77% checked their mobile phones 35 or more times a day.

More than one in two nomophobes never switch off their mobile phones. The study and subsequent coverage of the phobia resulted in two editorial columns authored by individuals who minimized their mobile phone use or chose not to own one at all. These authors appeared to treat the condition with light undertones of mockery, or outright disbelief and amusement.

Language classicists do not like this word or approve of it, because of its inherent confusion with the existing, though rare, nomophobia, a fear of laws, rules or regulations. The latter derives from the Greek nomos (a law, rule or regulation) seen in such other words as astronomy (rules about the stars), gastronomy (rules about food and eating), autonomy (ruling oneself), economy (rules governing the finances of the state or household), antinomy (a law contrary to another law), metronome (a device to regulate metre or beat), nomocracy (the rule of law in society), nomography (the law in written form), nomology (the study or science of law), nomothete (a lawgiver), and the archaic anomy (lawlessness). The neologistic meaning referred to in this article, relating to mobile phones, seems to have been adopted by the younger generations, and by those without a deeper understanding of the Oxford guidelines on word construction, in which typically Greek words are attached to Greek words (and Latin to Latin, etc.).

With the changes of technologies, new challenges are coming up on a daily basis. New kinds of phobias have emerged (the so-called techno-phobias). Since the first mobile phone was introduced to the consumer market in 1983, these devices have become significantly mainstream in the majority of societies.

Shambare, Rugimbana & Zhowa (2012) claimed that cell phones are “possibly the biggest non-drug addiction of the 21st century”, and that colleges students may spend up to nine hours every day on their phones, which can lead to dependence on such technologies as a driver of modern life and an example of “a paradox of technology”. that is both freeing and enslaving.

A survey conducted by SecurEnvoy showed that young adults and adolescents are more likely to suffer from nomophobia. The same survey reported that 77% of the teens reported anxiety and worries when they were without their mobile phones, followed by the 25-34 age group and people over 55 years old. Some psychological predictors to look for in a person who might be suffering of this phobia are “self negative views, younger age, low esteem and self-efficacy, high extroversion or introversion, impulsiveness and sense of urgency and sensation seeking”.

Among students, frequent cell phone usage has been correlated with decreases in grade point average (GPA) and increased anxiety that negatively impacts self-reported life satisfaction (well-being and happiness) in comparison to students with less frequent usage. GPA decreases may be due to the over-use of cell phone or computer usage consuming time and focus during studying, attending class, working on assignments, and the distraction of cell phones during class. Over-usage of cell phones may increase anxiety due to the pressure to be continually connected to social networks and could rob chances of perceived solitude, relieving daily stress, that has been linked as a component of well-being