EDMONTON – Is your cell phone always by your side? Do you feel lost and disconnected without it? If so, you may be suffering from nomophobia.
Psychologists describe the condition as a form of an anxiety disorder, characterized by a fear of being without or losing your mobile phone.
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One recent survey of 2,000 Americans commissioned by Lookout, a mobile security app maker, shows just how prevalent cell phone obsession is. The study revealed nearly 60 percent of respondents don’t go an hour without checking their phones. Going to church reduced that by quite a bit, but 9 percent still confessed to checking their phones during worship services. Nearly a third admitted to gazing at their screens during meals.
Another recent UK-based report by SecurEnvoy, a mobile phone technology company, found that 77 percent of 1,000 Brits surveyed felt uncomfortable after being away from their phones for more than a few minutes. 66 percent of the respondents displayed nomophobia symptoms, with those between the ages of 18 and 24 appearing to be the most dependent on their phones.
Some of the nomophobia symptoms include:
– compulsive checking of the phone for messages, updates, or battery life
– using the phone in inappropriate places
– experiencing significant anxiety when separated from the phone
– avoiding situations where you can’t have your phone
“Or they endure these situations with a great amount of anxiety or discomfort,” explains registered provisional psychologist Ashley Tulloch.
Tulloch adds that partners of people with nomophobia may notice other signs as well. “They’ll notice they bring their phone into bed with them, to the bathroom, into the shower, basically, they don’t go anywhere without their phone.”
Tamara Plant, a social media consultant in Edmonton, admits to many of those nomophobia symptoms, but prefers to think of her love affair with her phone as an addiction, rather than a phobia.
“My phone is my life,” she says.
Not only does Plant sleep with her phone, she also sometimes wakes up in the middle of the night to use it to check Twitter or her email.
“I just love my phone, I love my phone as much as I love my husband,” Plant says with a laugh, before adding, “Well, I love him more. I’m so ashamed!”
Her husband seems to have gotten used to it.
“(He) and I actually sit across from each other and tweet to each other. That’s a marriage made in heaven.”
Plant says despite always having her phone with her, she’s not constantly using it, and sees no need
“That just seems like being away from coffee or air,” she says. “I just couldn’t do it.
For those who would like help breaking the habit, you may consider seeing a psychologist who treats anxiety disorders. You may also try practicing being without your phone, by turning it off for an hour a day, or leaving it at home when you go out for dinner.
With files from Su-Ling Goh, Global News