Do you worry about losing your cell phone? Do you take it to the bathroom or pull it out at parties and in restaurants to obsessively check for emails, texts, and missed calls? If so, you might have nomophobia.
Yes, nomophobia is a thing.
The Conversation that Opened My Eyes
I found out a few weeks ago after talking with a friend who complained about the behavior of her nine-year-old grandson and his younger stepsister. It got me thinking about my own behavior.
“Who needs a phone at nine?” she asked, relating how the two hadn’t even bothered to say hello when they walked through her door on Christmas Day. They were too busy playing their cellphone games. Disgusted, she told the two kids to put the phones away. “He can’t take it to school and doesn’t need it for emergencies!”
I could relate, having watched my own kids obsess over their phones. And don’t get me started on my husband’s preoccupation with his devices over the years. How many times had he accidentally thrown his phone into the washing machine, along with his dirty jeans, only to rant later when the water-drenched device no longer worked?
Being a late adopter of technology, myself, I had resisted the siren’s call. In no way did I want constant contact with callers and texters. As my husband dumped white rice into his phone’s innards to absorb the moisture, I’d smugly tell him, “You have a problem.”
Egads, Am I Addicted?
As my friend talked, I started thinking about who might have the problem now. As the Bible says, “the spirit is willing, but the body is weak.” A few years ago, I relented and bought an iPhone.
Now, like my friend’s grandson, I can’t go a day without playing my stupid games. I check email and text messages obsessively. The phone goes to bed with me so I can listen to podcasts as I fall asleep. Meanwhile, our faithful Bose radio collects dust on the nightstand.
Am I addicted? Had my earlier disdain for devices morphed into nomophobia, a relatively new word that means “NO-MObile-PHone-phoBIA.” I went to the Internet. There, I learned the meaning of this new word and the signs of cellphone addiction.
Yes, I could be a nomophobe or coming darn close.
Techjury, a group of software pros I found online, published a particularly enlightening story about nomophobia. According to this article:
- Most people laugh 15 times a day. In comparison, average smartphone owners check their phones 150 times a day—10 times more often than they laugh.
- Users spend nearly three hours daily on their phones. In comparison, they spend fewer than 45 minutes of quality time with their families.
- Even in the company of friends and family, 85 percent of users will check their devices.
- And the stat that stopped me dead in my tracks: If given a choice, 45 percent of Americans would give up sex for one year before they would their cellphones.
Alrighty then, and I didn’t even address the jaw-dropping statistics surrounding social media users.
Why Are We So Slavish?
The effects of nomophobia?
Being constantly interrupted by alerts and notifications contribute to attention deficit problems. Like Pavlov’s dogs, most people react every time their phones ping, vibrate, or chirp. And when separated from their beloved appendages, people experience higher blood pressure levels and increased heart rates.
Here’s another fact. Using smartphones for longer intervals increases the brain’s production of dopamine, the happy hormone that increases moments of pleasure and reward. We love dopamine. Who doesn’t? But cocaine, stimulants and heroin also increase dopamine output.
Let that sink in.
Maybe it’s time to put the phone down. No mo’ nomophobia for me. I have enough problems.