There’s a Word for That: Nomophobia

atkins-bookshelf-wordsDefinition: the fear of being without a mobile phone (eg, losing the phone), or being out of mobile phone contact (eg, loss of network coverage, dead battery).

Etymology: Nomophobia is an abbreviation for “NO-MObile-phone PHOBIA.” The term was coined in a 2010 study by YouGov, a research organization in England commissioned by the UK Post Office (perhaps in a futile attempt to bash mobile phone usage over letter-writing) to study the impact of mobile phone usage.

Although nomophobia is not classified as an official psychological disorder in the bible of psychological disorders, Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders-V (2013), it has been proposed as a specific phobia. If you have ever seen an adolescent lose his or her phone, you have seen the typical symptoms of nomophobia: anxiety, respiratory changes, trembling, perspiration, agitation, and disorientation — preceded, of course, by an avalanche of colorful expletives.

In 2012, a research team concluded that cell phones are the biggest non-drug addiction of the 21st century. The data from several studies paint a disturbing portrait of an epidemic of nomophobia, particularly among young people.

Here are some key findings from the 2010 UK study:
53% of mobile phone users tend to be anxious when they lose their mobile phone, experience loss of network coverage, or lose battery power.

58% of men and 47% or women suffer from nomophobia; and an additional 9% feel stress when their phones are turned off. The level of stress they feel is equal to that of going to the dentist — especially one that doesn’t have wifi in the office.

A 2005 survey conducted by SecurEnvoy published the following findings:
77% of teens experienced nomophobia. Psychological predictors included young age, low self-esteem, high extroversion or introversion, impulsiveness, and sensation seeking. Another study also found that people with panic and anxiety disorders (eg, social anxiety or social phobia) are more predisposed to nomophobia.

Here are some notable findings from a 2014 study:
Frequent use of cell phone was correlated to decreases in GPA.
Paradoxically, over-usage of cell phones can increase anxiety due to the pressure that a student feels from being constantly connected to his or her social networks.

Read related posts: There’s a Word for That: Esprit de l’escalier
There’s a Word for That: Jouissance
There’s a Word for That: Abibliophobia
There’s a Word for That: Petrichor
There’s a Word for That: Deipnosophist


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