Nomophobia - Mobile phone addiction
We live in a society where everything is turning digital at a very fast pace. The use of smartphones has surpassed the barriers of age and the economy. Everyone uses a smartphone and hence it’s having some serious psychological impact on the people using it.
What is Nomophobia?
Nomophobia is defined by psychologists as the fear of being away from the contact of your phone. It is widely considered as a new age phobia starting with the digital revolution. The amount of time individuals spend on their phones is rising in an alarming fashion.
The need for people to keep continuing to use the phone to maintain a social connection is an epidemic that is running rampant without any cure. Since it is not considered a serious mental condition there is very little research being done on the matter.
Nomophobia is an abbreviation for no-mobile-phobia. It was coined in Britain after the revealing of these disturbing statistics. The study showed that 58% of Men and 47% of women suffered from nomophobia. This goes to show that women are able to cope better with situations where you do not have the assistance of your phone.
How to Know if I’m Addicted to my Phone?
There are a set of questionnaires such as the NMP-Q(Nomophobia questionnaire) that can be used to scientifically asses if you have a mobile phone addiction. If not there are very visible symptoms that can be analyzed to understand if you have a mobile phone addiction. Here is a list of symptoms that shows if you are addicted to mobile phones or not.
People suffering from nomophobia suffer from a great deal of anxiety when they stay away from their phone for a long time. They slowly develop a pathological need to keep checking their phones during regular intervals. The lack of productivity along with the lack of human face to face interactions can be considered as the main reason behind the anxiety caused due to nomophobia.
The dependency levels of the individual to their phones also play a major part in developing this anxiety. The level of dependency is parallel to the level of anxiety one faces while being away from their phone. These individuals will also have anxiety as the phone is about to die or the credits are about to run out. In some studies, the level of anxiety in these situations was on par with the levels of anxiety one face during their own wedding or during a dentist visit.
In severe cases, this anxiety can cause sudden anxiety attacks when one finds out their phone is missing. The level of private information stored on the phone acts as a catalyst to these anxious reactions. If you are an avid mobile user and you start to feel even a little bit more anxious than you used to be, its safe to reduce your phone usage and engage more with your friends and family.
People suffering from nomophobia will start spending more and more time on their phone which significantly cuts down their person to person interactions. This, in the long run, becomes social isolation. The inability to initiate or respond to any conversation happening outside of the virtual world is truly a disturbing position to be in.
Social isolation is dangerous as it can lead to a serious case of depression in the long run. The most dangerous aspect of this is that the individual will not recognize that he is isolating the society since he/she might find themselves to be around friends all the time with their social media connections.
The regular conversations they have over chats and comments make them feel inclusive in everyone’s life while the truth reflects that not all people consider their Facebook friends to be their real friends. Social isolation can be very dangerous to children who are addicted to smartphones as it significantly affects their psychological development in the future.
Nervous breakdown is a state of mind wherein the individual is unable to function normally for a short period of time due to extreme stress and anxiety. The nervous breakdown also known as the mental breakdown is caused due to certain environmental factors becoming extremely opposing making the individual feel overwhelmed by the entire environment.
Nervous breakdown is a condition that arises in individuals with an underlying psychological disorder. In people suffering from nomophobia, nervous breakdown sets off very easily. It’s mostly because of the huge amount of time they spend in the virtual world where everything is structured and in zeros and ones. The world of smartphones does not have the complications and chaos of the real world.
Individuals who are accustomed to such environments can find the chaos of the real world to be really overwhelming. Especially when things do not go according to plan or while being faced with any conflict. This is a major symptom and needs to be curbed by a deliberate reduction of the time spend on phones.
Insomnia / Restless nights:
The use of smartphones increased as its size decreased. When smartphones became aesthetically pleasing with bigger screens and sleeker body we started to enjoy the feeling it has on our hands. This invariably meant that we started taking the phone to our beds while sleeping.
The content that comes through your smartphones are as big as the internet itself, we keep staring at the mobile screen in dark rooms unable to go to sleep and eventually doze off at some point when our eyes get tired. This lifestyle is the main cause behind insomnia caused due to nomophobia.
When your daily sleep routine starts to highly depend on your phones it creates an issue where in your sleep cycle starts getting disrupted. In such situations, you start experiencing restless nights and an acute case of insomnia where you are spending entire nights on your bed without sleeping checking your phone at regular intervals.
This is a very serious condition that needs immediate rectification and sometimes even counseling. There are reported cases where individuals are not able to sleep without falling asleep while looking at their mobile screens. The pleasure centers of the brain want you to use the phone more and more which classifies nomophobia as a real addiction that cannot be ignored.
Weight changes are a very subtle symptom of nomophobia which often goes unnoticed. If observed carefully you can notice visible changes in an individuals weight when he/she is addicted to the mobile phone. There can be both weight gain and weight loss for the patients. This is a result of the lack of sleep or other changes in the normal cycles of a human being caused due to extreme nomophobia.
In kids, these symptoms are much more noticeable. In kids with nomophobia, there are higher risks as the child can increase his/her addiction in the future. Weight loss can also implicate further complications as the health of the child can be affected due to weight loss or gain.
Individuals addicted to the phone can also face acute weight loss compared to that of terminal conditions at times. Insomnia that accompanies nomophobia disrupts the normal body functions causing hormonal imbalances and varied moods.
This is a very serious health hazard and needs much more research to understand the exact cause behind the sudden changes in the weight. There can further physical and psychological complications that can arise due to weight changes.
How to Reduce Mobile Addiction?
Understanding the seriousness of mobile addiction and accepting that you are a victim to it is the first step in reducing mobile addiction. There are various methods that you can adopt to ensure that you are free of the anxiousness that is caused when you stay away from your phone. Here are some methods that you can use to reduce your mobile addiction.
Ration your mobile usage time:
Controlling the amount of time you spend on your phone can help a lot while trying to reduce your mobile addiction. Intentionally setting up time zones to check your notification can lead to reduced usage time and higher output from an individual. It might be hard for individuals, in the beginning, to cope with these timings as the addiction is like any other addiction and your mind will force you to keep checking your phone.
Use a real alarm clock:
Most individuals start using their phone as soon as they start snoozing it in the morning. The goal here is to stay away from your phone as much as possible. Getting a real alarm clock can stop you from using your phone in the bed before you actually start your day.
Make your bed an no phone zone:
Never use your phone in the bed unless it’s absolutely necessary. This is a very important step in reducing smartphone usage as most individuals keep using their phones in the bed.
Make it a point that you do not use your phone at least 30 minutes before going to sleep.
Individuals suffering from nomophobia might find it difficult in the beginning to go to sleep without their phones and the use of this technique might prove to be really hard for them. Get help from your spouse or your friends in ensuring that you resist the urge to take a peek at your phone before going to sleep.
Engage with people:
Reducing social isolation and finding a proper emotional feedback system outside of the virtual world can help a lot in reducing nomophobia. The more time you spend with real people outside the virtual world can help in reducing the usage time of your phone.
Engaging with people and participating in outdoor activities can help you reclaim your original personality and force you to start making friends outside of social media. Keep a track on the time you spend on your phone and you can see an active reduction when you start getting out more.
Nomophobia is a real issue and needs to be taken more seriously in sectors pertaining to mental welfare. I hope this article has helped you in understanding nomophobia and to prevent it if possible.
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