Nomophobia or No Mobile Phone Phobia is the fear of being without your cell phone or without cell phone connectivity. While this may seem odd, more than 50% of the population reports anxiety or distress when they are detached from their phone or unable to use it.
For the last decade mobile phones have been a part of our daily lives and many of us rely on them as an endless source of knowledge, entertainment, and communication. Canadians spent an average of about 4.4 hours per day on their phones in 2021, and it increases each year. But what happens when we become too attached? The result might be fear and anxiety impacting the brain and functioning of everyday life.
How do I know if I have Nomophobia?
While it might be difficult to identify this obscure phobia, there are a few ways to know if your attachment to your phone is impacting your psychological health. These behaviours include:
• Panic when thinking about being without your phone
• Anxiety about misplacing your phone
• Waking up and checking your phone at night
• Bringing it with you everywhere, including places like the shower
• Feelings of helplessness or boredom without your phone
• Phantom vibrations (hearing your phone buzz when it isn’t)
• Lying about phone use or phone habits
Physical symptoms of panic include rapid breathing, tight chest, trembling, sweating, and disorientation. Experiencing these thoughts and behaviours is becoming increasingly common, especially in teenagers and young adults.
Why are we so attached?
Unfortunately, the cause or causes for nomophobia remains unknown as this is a modern phobia, continuing to be studied. However, there are both elements of anxiety and addiction surrounding this fear, which we can examine.
It has been suggested that those with pre-existing anxiety disorders such as Generalized Anxiety Disorder and Social Anxiety may be more likely to experience nomophobia. Living with anxiety puts individuals at risk for developing phobia, however, it is treatable.
There is also a fear of loneliness or isolation that comes with not having your phone. Those who have FOMO (fear of missing out) might find that this extends to their phone and do not want to be without it for that reason. Perhaps a situation in the past where you forgot your phone and missed something important has increased this worry.
There is also the idea that nomophobia is more of an addiction to your device, a behavioural addiction. Phones and apps are designed to be addictive and not want to put your device down, like a Vegas Casino there is always a sound or vibration that makes you pick your phone up again.
Becoming less dependent
If you think you or someone you know might have nomophobia, you’re not alone. While the cause might be difficult to pinpoint, treatment options are available for general phobias and anxiety disorders. Cognitive Behavioural Therapy has been proven effective for anxiety and helps individuals change these habits.
Cognitive Behavioural Therapy is also proven in treating addictions, allowing individuals to leave negative behaviours behind and form healthy habits. Group therapy can also help individuals struggling with nomophobia, as it can be helpful to share experiences and support others. Individuals who want to reduce their screen time can also practice mindfulness, being aware of putting down your phone for a certain amount of time and reminding yourself that you can be without it.
Nomophobia is a result of the technological advances society has made and it continues to be studied as we evolve. The connection between phone use and mental health issues is growing, however with the proper support, we can overcome the fear of being without our phones.
About the Author
Samantha-Rose is the Digital Marketing Intern at CMAP Health and Unified CBT. She Studied Business at Ryerson University and is now a Public Relations major at Humber College.