Where is your cell phone right now? Is it right next to you? On the desk? In the other room? Where is it?!?!? If you find yourself mildly freaking out when you’re not near your phone, you might have nomophobia, otherwise known as the fear of losing or being unable to use a cellphone. Just another condition they didn’t have to deal with way back in yore.
In a survey in the United Kingdom, 66% of respondents displayed symptoms related to nomophobia, which jives with an earlier study that found that a typical cellphone owner will check it 34 times a day, notes the Detroit News. So, we’re addicts! And it appears women are a bit more tied to their devices, as the survey found 70% of women got uncomfortable being separated from their phones, in comparison to 61% of men.
Whether you’re worried about being unreachable or have just developed an affection for the device that lets you do a variety of things — checking the weather in Azerbaijan or ordering chicken noodle soup from down the street when you’re sick — with a few quick taps and swipes, nomophobia is just an internal fear that could come from anything.
Part of this anxiety could be due to dopamine, which is a chemical the brain releases when it expects a reward. So if you’re waiting for that text message to arrive from that one special guy and you can’t find your phone, maybe you freak out a bit because you’ll be denied that rush of happy feelings when the tiny envelope appears on the screen.
One doctor cited by the Detroit News says nomophobia is real, no matter the reason behind it. He’s actually counseled patients who can’t handle the feelings associated with cellphone separation.
So are you nomophobic? Symptoms include checking your phone compulsively, using it where you shouldn’t (in the middle of a conversation or in the bathroom stall at work) and waking up in the middle of the night just to check on the phone. The doctor recommends trying to leave the phone behind once in a while or just confine yourself to a limited amount of time checking texts and messages, and turn it off at night if you can.
I can relate. I make a final round of things I need to look at on my phone before setting it gently on my bedside table at night and whispering “Good night, sweet prince.” And right now, it’s approximately eight inches away. That’s too far.
Survey: More cellphone users developing ‘nomophobia’ [Detroit News]