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Nomophobia (Fear of Being Without Your Phone) – a Rising Trend in Today’s World

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Emmanuella Ekokotu
Ekokotu Emmanuella is a sociologist and Anthropologist, writer, and fashion model who lives in Benin city, Edo state,Nigeria.

You have heard of claustrophobia, and you may have heard of Achluophobia. However, If I bet you never knew there was anything called Nomophobia before today, I might get a dollar or not.

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Technology is causing a change that might be too rapid for some people to catch up with, but it’s exciting. Besides, as we record a run-up in technological development, we also record a speedy influence of these changes in our society.

In the last decade, there has been a massive departure from the usage of tiny mobile phones that were good for nothing more than phone calls and sending text messages to the new world of smartphones and tablets.

Hence, the battles we now fight are no longer of who makes phones that slide or flip, but of whose OS is best – Apple’s iOS, Google’s Android, or Huawei’s Harmony OS.

Whew! That’s one hell of a transition.

So here we are in the present. Mobile phones have become essential tools for not only communication, but for work, education, and everything that has to do with our daily lives.

Nevertheless, asides playing an active role in making us live smarter, mobile phones have taken control of the time, energy, and lives of many people to the extent that they pose a danger.

So, what exactly have our innocent smartphones got to do with phobias? You’re about to find out.

What is nomophobia?

Nomophobia ( a new word derived from the locution “no-mobile-phone-phobia”) is a word used to describe the symptoms that a person suffers when faced with the fear of not having, or living without a mobile phone, or/and the services that the phone provides (especially Internet connection and calls).

Nomophobia may seem laughable, but it’s an urgent matter. Some studies claim 50% of the world’s population are affected by the feeling of anxiety associated with the absence of a mobile phone (though the severity of the symptoms might differ a great deal amongst affected persons).

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Furthermore, nomophobia as a problem is escalating since it primarily affects young people who have acclimatized to this technology from their young ages, and who are also more susceptible, due to their need for the “social approval” proffered by the sustained use of outlets like social media and apps. However, Nomophobia is not age-group specific as even seniors can be affected.

Like all other phobias, nomophobia can be diagnosed through common symptoms such as nervousness, fear, or anxiety. But nomophobia may also involve headaches, tachycardia, obsessive thoughts, or stomach ache.

Unlike other phobias, the causes of nomophobia are reasonably apparent. An addiction to smartphones (one that is rampant nowadays) which causes fear or false feeling of dissatisfaction in the absence of the device.

However, nomophobia is beyond said addiction to the phone. It may instead serve as a shield or camouflage for other issues like social anxiety or low self-esteem.

Most people who find it challenging to engage in physical interactions do better behind their keypads, hence the addiction to their phones.

How does nomophobia affect a person’s daily life?

Asides enslaving phone owners, there are several other adverse effects Nomophobia can have on people.

In the first place, nomophobia forces an individual who is dealing with it from checking their mobile phone repeatedly, to a point where they neglect other important aspects of their life. Thus, the fear of being without a phone can have an impact on someone’s relationships, work, and other aspects of a person’s life.

But it goes further than that. The anxiety that comes from the thought of not owning a mobile phone and the habit of impulsively checking it repeatedly can cause nervousness. This nervousness can increase dramatically in some cases and even condition a person’s life.

For instance, a person who has nomophobia may deliberately avoid traveling or visiting places, especially with inadequate broadband coverage out of fear of being “disconnected.”

Such people may also avoid activities like camping because there will be no electricity or alternative power source to charge their phones. Depending on the severity of these symptoms, a person’s healthy life might be taking a nosedive.

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Also, insomnia is a harmful symptom of this phobia. Many people stay up all night using their phones. Some others wake up countless times to check updates or keep up with trends.

The result of this self sleep deprivation is a messed up sleep life, feeling and looking tired in the mornings, headache, and other adverse effects of insomnia.

How can someone cope with nomophobia?

As it is a condition with so much negative influence on people of all classes and ages, the best way to deal with it is by seeking professional help. However, in the absence of professional help, there are several things you can do to help yourself.

Find some time to disconnect

Deliberately disconnecting from internet or phone use is a habit employed to make the brain adapt to the idea of selecting moments for disconnection, which is reasonable and also very necessary. You can disconnect in moments like mealtime and sleeping hours.

Make a clear distinction between your virtual life and real life

One of the significant causes of nomophobia is the thought or attempt to give a real-life experience a status that usually is equal or even superior to what we experienced in reality.

However, there must be a clear understanding that our “virtual life” is only a fragment of something more substantial: our actual everyday life.

Set a limit on the information that you receive

Do you find it impossible to resist the urge to read notifications? Do you also wonder whether if your messages are delivered or if you have a strong enough connection to receive incoming messages or check social media?

You can disable notifications and deliberately put your phone in flight mode for some time.

Use only the necessary apps

There are many apps out there for you to install. However, if you begin to keep too many of them (especially social networks), you’ll sink feeling into Nomophobia.

The more app you install, the higher the need to feed your phone addiction by checking essages and following your favorite accounts on the various platforms.

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Smartphones are smart, but humans are smarter. Use your devices responsibly and take control of your time and activities in the real world.

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