Mental HealthSelf Help

NOMOPHOBIA — Modern Day Phobia

NO MObile Phone PHOBIA

What is Nomophobia?

Are you familiar with this term- NOMOPHOBIA?
Nomophobia is the fear of being without your phone. Yes, you read it correctly it is the irrational fear of losing or not having access to one’s mobile phone. It may be when mobile runs out of battery, when you are in the area with no cellular coverage or when you lose, forget or break your phone.

Somewhere it is termed as separation anxiety or lifestyle disorder or smartphone addiction as well, whatever be the term improper use of smartphone is leading to separation anxiety, stress, panic, decreased attention, focus and concentration.

A smartphone is the means of communication, socialization, shopping tools, personal organizer, and mobile banking as we get information, work updates, study materials, money manager, friends and connections in it, replacing in-person connections and live friends. 

What are the symptoms of Nomophobia?

Let us check If we do have symptoms of Nomophobia or not

While Nomophobia is not a clinical diagnosis, some of the symptoms that are commonly identified as related to this fear include:

  • The inability to turn off your phone
  • Constantly checking your phone for missed messages, emails, or calls
  • Charging your battery even when your phone is almost fully charged
  • Taking your phone with you everywhere you go, even into the bathroom
  • Repeatedly checking to make sure that you have your phone
  • Fear of being without WiFi or being able to connect to a cellular data network
  • Worrying about negative things happening and not being able to call for help
  • Stress over being disconnected from one’s online presence or identity
  • Skipping activities or planned events to spend time on the mobile device.

If you are facing most of these symptoms, then it may be the sign of Nomophobia.

How smartphone affect our mind?

Smartphone nowadays is used as a security blanket or comfort blanket. It has effects on the mind, career and relationship leading to Fear of missing out (FOMO), alone together, dependency, decreased cognitive ability and attention. Nomophobia is comorbid with anxiety and panic disorders.

Smartphone has an effect on the mind in the following ways:

  • Reduced cognitive ability: Smartphone makes us lazy thinkers providing us with readymade facts and figures leading to decreased cognitive ability.
  • Decreased Socio-emotional development: Smartphone is used as a means to calm and distract young children leading to decreased self-regulation followed by less interaction, play and problem-solving skills.
  • Decreased sleep: Blue light emitted by smartphone reduces melatonin leading to decreased sleep.
  • Mental Laziness: Features of a smartphone such as a calculator, reminder and note-taking leads to dependency even for easy tasks leading to reduced mental effort.

Optimum use of smartphone is beneficial in numerous ways but, excessive use and dependency is the big question regarding smartphone use.

How to manage Nomophobia?

Self-discipline and behaviour modification is the prime intervention to manage Nomophobia including:

  1. Being aware of the usage of smartphone and its effect on daily life.
  2. Switching off mobile when it is not necessary. For example at bedtime or important meetings.
  3. Turning off the notification of mail, social media and regular apps and checking it as per the necessity.
  4. No smartphone in your bedroom. Making your bedroom free of a smartphone, using table watch for the alarms. Saving a bedroom with no phone near the bedroom and using the bedroom only for sleep.
  5. Engagement in alternative activities for connection and updates. For instance- joining volunteer clubs. Try reading a book, going for a walk, playing a sport, or engaging in a hobby that you enjoy.
  6. Choosing real over virtual experiences preferring group meeting rather than group chatting.
  7. Valuing empty space in your day, filling it with engaging activities creating own reward system for not using a smartphone.
  8. Create exceptions like avoiding smartphone during a meeting, play, vacation or dinner.

If you have a hard time controlling your smartphone use and you think you are vulnerable, please contact psychologist, psychiatrist or psychosocial counsellor for further help. Counsellors, Psychologist, and Therapist are there to help you with a different form of therapies: cognitive behaviour therapy, exposure therapy, addiction therapy, interpersonal therapy mindfulness and psycho-education.

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Kapil Sharma

Kapil Sharma is a known writer and professional Trainer/ Influencer in the field of mental health, life skills, and public health from Nepal. He is one of the founding members of THE SUCCESS NEWS. He is working in the field of mental health & counseling psychology in Nepal.

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