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Nomophobia on the Rise: Statistics and Studies Reveal the True Story

Updated on June 20, 2016

What is Nomophobia?

The dying battery on my smartphone gives me a panic attack. This isn’t an exaggeration anymore. The great thinkers of our day have coined the term “nomophobia” for such a situation. This is what Urban Dictionary has to say: Nomophobia is a noun that basically is shortened from no-mobile-phobia and stands for “an exaggerated, inexplicable, and illogical fear being without a mobile device, power source, or service area.” The term was coined when British researchers found that 53% of mobile users admitted to feelings of anxiety when they either run out of phone battery or credit, lost their phone or are in an area with no network coverage. Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary has this quote from Jay Fidell of The Honolulu Star, “The more powerful these phones get, the more we use and depend on them, and the more compulsive and nomophobic we become.”

Nomophobia: On the Rise
Nomophobia: On the Rise
Mobile Separation Anxiety
Mobile Separation Anxiety

Not a New Phenomenon

It was way back in 2008, the same year that Apple launched the first iPhone, that CBS reported, “Millions of people are suffering from a new disorder. It causes cold sweats, nervousness and severe anxiety.” A survey by Post Office Telecom in 2010 had revealed that the stress levels evoked by the anxiety of being without a mobile phone equated to the stress of visiting a dentist, moving houses and even getting married. Over the years, with the mobile phone becoming an integral part of our lives, nomophobia has only proliferated. And the problem is nothing to smirk at. It affects us all. A study published in January 2015 in Science Daily found that separation from one’s iPhone could be linked not only to anxiety but also poor cognitive performance. One of the researchers, belonging to the University of Missouri, said, “Additionally, the results from our study suggest that iPhones are capable of becoming an extension of our selves such that when separated, we experience a lessening of 'self' and a negative physiological state.” An article in Scientific American, published in October 2015, says that nomophobia stems from a dependence that has serious psychological consequences.

Do You Have Nomophobia?
Do You Have Nomophobia?
How Do You Feel When You Are Separated From Your Cell Phone?
How Do You Feel When You Are Separated From Your Cell Phone?

Assessing the Problem

Did you know that researchers at Iowa State University have actually designed a 20-question Nomophobia Questionnaire? The questionnaire was published in August 2015 on the university’s online newsletter. The test aimed to measure how an individual would feel if they lost access to their mobile device. On analysis of the data obtained, the researchers found that there were four different concerns that were associated with nomophobia, including being unable to communicate with others, loss of connectivity in general, absence of access to information and the loss of convenience. Although now one can assess the presence of the problem, researchers are still trying to develop a way to measure the psychological impact associated with it. On the other hand, an article in Psychology Today says that the problem has been worsening in the US, especially among college students. The article went on to point out that two out of three people sleep with their mobile phones, while 34% people admitted to answering their phone even during times of intimacy with their partner. What was even worse was that one in five people said that they would rather go bare feet to work for a week than be separated from their phone. Overall, 66% percent of the adults surveyed were found to suffer from nomophobia.

The Nomophobia Questionnaire

No More Phobia!
No More Phobia!

How to Cope with Nomophobia

Of course, we do need to put that phone down and walk away. Don’t look back! But it is much easier said than done. Most of us would rather ensure that our battery is always full or that we have backup, always check before leaving home that the phone is with us and get out of areas with no network coverage as quickly as possible. This is also why there is high demand for rechargeable battery packs, say experts at Weego. The first step to overcome any problem in life is to identify it. Therefore, this is the time to look within and see how you feel about cell phone separation. Counseling also works, with Cognitive Behavior Therapy proving to be the most successful method. Did you know that there are support groups and group therapy options for people suffering from nomophobia? If you find that this anxiety is affecting your functioning at any point in time, it might be useful to consider such options. Some things that you could try right away is to set aside times to check your phone rather than checking it at regular intervals. According to the Los Angeles Times, keeping the phone away in another room or turning it off for certain periods during the day can be a good start. According to Dr Elizabeth Waterman of Morningside Recovery, “Try to put your phone down for a certain amount of time each day. There is no magic number in terms of how long it should be put down, but just try to put it down for a few moments and try to refocus on your face-to-face interactions.”

Stem the Rise of Nomophobia
Stem the Rise of Nomophobia


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    • RTalloni profile image


      2 years ago from the short journey

      These facts and figures are nothing short of amazing. While there are times when I do not want to be without my phone, such as when traveling, the novelty has certainly worn off. I've left home to run errands a couple of times lately and just forgot the thing only to discover it to be a freeing relief once I realized it! The honeymoon is long over. ;)


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