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25th Mar 2024

What is Nomophobia? The fear of being without your phone explained

Jody Coffey


Research indicates that mobile phone use is ‘possibly the biggest non-drug addiction of the 21st century’

In the digital age, our phones are an extension of our arms.

Part of our daily lives includes checking our social media and using our phones as our number one form of contact.

Understandably, as we evolve with technology, new phobias related to our phones begin to develop.

Nomophobia is a psychological condition when a person has a fear of being detached from mobile phone connectivity, with feelings of panic or anxiety when the phone is not in their presence.

Credit: Getty

What is Nomophobia?

Last year, it was estimated that around 66 percent of the population has Nomophobia.

However, the burden of this problem is now increasing globally, according to the National Library of Medicine.

According to an article published in the Journal of Family Medicine and Primary Care, several psychological conditions may be linked to the development of Nomophobia — such as social anxiety and panic disorders.

However, they also stated that it is still unclear if it comes from an existing anxiety disorder or if its development is rooted in a mobile phone addiction.

This is supported by a study from 2016 which suggested that Nomophobia may be less of a specific phobia or anxiety and more of an addiction.

Researchers of this study even proposed changing the name and making a classification called ‘smartphone addiction disorder’.

While many admit to feeling anxiety or fear about being without their phones, Nomophobia is not officially recognised as a disorder by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.

Researchers have made a case for its inclusion for years now, however, it is viewed psychological condition.

Credit: Getty

Signs and Symptoms of Nomophobia

According to the National Library of Medicine, The below-mentioned signs and symptoms are observed in cases of Nomophobia:

  • Anxiety
  • Respiratory alterations
  • Trembling
  • Perspiration
  • Agitation
  • Disorientation
  • Tachycardia (heart rate over 100 beats a minute)
Credit: Getty

What causes Nomophobia?

Studies have proposed that Nomophobia may be an extension of preexisting conditions.

Some surveys have also suggested that young adults are more likely to experience Nomophobia.

One study saw 77 percent of teenage participants admitting to having anxiety when they were without their phones, with 61 percent of people checking their smartphones after waking in the morning.

Researchers concluded that there were several predictors for the condition, such as ‘self-negative views, younger age, low esteem, self-efficacy, high extroversion/introversion, impulsiveness and sense of urgency and seeking’, all of which may trigger the development of Nomophobia.

Meanwhile, another study conducted in Australia stated that victims of anxiety disorders and panic disorders were more vulnerable to Nomophobia

A study in Brazil found that of two groups, 44 percent of participants from the panic disorders group felt ‘secure’ when they had their mobile phones, suggesting Nomophobia is linked to pre-existing panic disorders and/or anxiety.

In contrast, 46 percent of the ‘healthy’ group said that they would not feel the same without mobile phones.

The study also found that 68 percent of all participants reported mobile phone dependency.

However, participants with panic disorders confessed to having more emotional symptoms and dependency on mobile phones compared to the control group when their access to the phone was restricted.