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Nomophobia: a fear of being without your phone

Tech and Innovation

Posted on January 21, 2013

2 min read

A recent study of 2,000 American smartphone users found that 68% of smartphone users aged 18-34 don’t last more than an hour without checking their phones; 94% of smartphone users worry about losing their phone and 73% feel panicked when it is lost. This fear of being without mobile phone contact is called ‘nomophobia’, a shortening of no-mobile-phone phobia (yes, I got this from Wikipedia).

The stats show that 18% of 18-24 year olds become anxious if they can’t check their phone every 15 minutes; and 15% of 25-34 year olds feel the same effect. That means that if you throw a dinner party for five people in that age group, chances are that at least one of your guests is uncomfortable and experiencing some form of phone-separation.

I first heard these statistics when they were released in August 2012 but never really thought about them until last weekend when I was at a family function with my 16 year old cousin who is without a doubt addicted to her phone.

My cousin’s behaviour towards her smartphone was astounding. She sat there for nearly two hours straight staring at her phone without engaging in the conversations going on around her. When I asked to look at the crack she had on her screen she was immediately suspicious of me. In the few minutes that I spent examining her phone it vibrated four times, each one causing her to cringe as she couldn’t read it straight away.

I know it’s been said that every generation has had an addiction (when I was little, I spent my fair share of time playing Mario Kart on Nintendo with my older brother) but this one seems different. Maybe it’s because it causes anxiety or because it makes people noticeably less-interested in face-to-face conversation.

I think the real reason it seems different is because it is highlighting the difference between Generation Y and the previous generations more than any other generational-addictions and phobias; and unlike arachnophobia or claustrophobia it’s a man-made phobia so we’re just not sure how to deal with it yet.

Do you experience nomophobia?

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