If being without your phone scares you, it might be nomophobia

4 Min Read

If the thought of being without your smartphone fills you with anxiety, you’re not alone. A recent survey has revealed that 42% of British adults can relate to ‘nomophobia’ – the fear of being without mobile phone connectivity.

Psychologist Dr. Linda Papadopoulos explains that nomophobia primarily stems from dependency and a tendency to catastrophize. She emphasizes the importance of establishing values, setting boundaries, and being self-aware in our phone usage to cultivate a healthier relationship with our devices.

In a survey conducted by Sky Mobile involving 2,000 participants, 23% of respondents indicated they would prefer holding a tarantula, 14% favored swimming with sharks, and 15% felt that spending a night in a haunted house would be more bearable than enduring a week without 5G connectivity. On average, the research found that British people use their phones for approximately 14 hours per week. Let’s explore phone addiction and its potential impact on our well-being.

**How to Recognize the Signs of Nomophobia or Phone Addiction**

Dr. Papadopoulos suggests it’s relatively straightforward to spot these signs. If you constantly check for your phone’s whereabouts or worry about missing calls, whether related to social events or work, you might be dealing with nomophobia. Feeling in control is essential for inner peace.

She encourages you to reflect on the first thing you seek upon waking or heading out the door. If it’s your phone, this could be an indicator of nomophobia. The sensation that your phone is vibrating when it’s not can also be a sign of this fear.

**Has Social Media Exacerbated the Issue?**

Understanding the multifaceted roles our phones play in our lives is crucial. They have transformed from mere communication devices into digital extensions we use for learning, working, and connecting, notes Dr. Papadopoulos.

In the case of social media, the desire to belong and the fear of missing out are strong driving forces. Therefore, your engagement with technology is closely linked to your sense of self, work, and personal expectations.

**How Does It Impact Our Well-being?**

The impact on well-being depends on how we use our phones. Mindlessly scrolling through content can affect your emotional state negatively. Dr. Papadopoulos advises taking control of your technology rather than letting it control you. Avoid catastrophizing your mobile phone’s absence, as there are alternative ways to stay connected. Otherwise, it might lead to technology separation anxiety – an exaggerated fear of being without your device.

Concerning addiction, if it interferes with daily life, leads to disproportionate reactions, impairs real-life social interactions, disrupts sleep patterns, or affects eating habits, it’s time to recognize it as a potential case of nomophobia. For instance, if a 12-year-old girl anxiously awaits likes on her social media posts, it indicates that her phone is affecting her mental health.

However, mobile phones also have positive aspects, notes Dr. Papadopoulos. They enable long-distance connections with loved ones, allowing activities like cooking with a distant family member.

**How to Address the Issue**

To address the problem, Dr. Papadopoulos suggests some basic steps. Keep your phone in a consistent location to avoid constantly searching for it and to regain a sense of control over anxious thoughts. Remember that your mobile phone is neither the best nor the worst thing in your life – this perspective can help you manage your relationship with it.

If you suspect that your phone usage may have turned into an addiction, it’s advisable to consult your GP for assistance.

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