The smartphone addiction and nomophobia syndrome

The smartphone addiction is, for many, the disease of the XXI century. So much that, the dread of being deprived of it can already be identified as a syndrome for a large part of the residents, without those affected being aware of it. The best cell phone, either with or without the internet, a smart phone or the lifelong type, is the one that we use only when it is useful for us. That one that we can do without without causing us any alteration. How many are able, today, to say that? Let’s raise our hands if we are able of leaving our cells at home without having a burning desire to come for it. Who has run out of bars one early afternoon and haven’t had the feeling of being untraceable? Who has left without the phone and hasn’t harbored the suspicion that precisely those hours he might receive an important call that he will miss on. And above all, who has left the cinema or the theater on occasions and has been able to endure to the front door without checking the calls or missed messages?

The person that cannot answer satisfactory to these questions may use this name: nomophobia. That’s the term, a shortening of the expression no-mobile-phone-phobia, which the experts picked for the fear of being deprived of the mobile phone., which they say is the virus of the century.

phone addictionOn average, each user consults his phone 34 times a day. Having in mind that many of them continue to do so only occasionally, it is easy to understand the dependence that a bunch of people has. And of course, before such precious commodity, and as it happens with any treasure that becomes an obsession, the fear of losing it can become frightening. According to many studies, 70% of women admit that they have the panic of losing their phone, compared with 61% of men.

Obviously, the mobile dependence is particularly worrying among young people. The most interesting is the unreasonable fright of not carrying the mobile phone with them. Teenagers are progressively bored rigid with the usual leisure activities. Mobile addicts often have some common personality characteristics, such as low self-esteem, problems with body acceptance and lacking of social skills and conflict resolutions. In addition, nomophobia manifests itself in symptoms such as anxiety, disorder, anger or fretfulness, rejection, suppression and/or minimization of the issue, remorse and low self-assurance.

How to differentiate if your teen has a phone dependence or a normal use of it? If he/she experience any of the following situations:

  • Frustration and despair when they have forgotten it.
  • Frustration and despair when they cannot contact a person for some kind of restriction
  • Anger and anguish when there is no signal
  • Desperation when they are about to lose the battery
  • Compulsively checking the phone to see some notifications, either missed call or message.

At least these indicators demonstrate that your teen already has problems of phone dependence. You may ask yourself what are the risks of living with such addiction? The consequences range from a permanent state of anxiety, something that definitely affects the functionality of the young, to neglect, endangering the life of the person and not only when they are driving, nowadays even while walking on the street. There are many cases where teenagers have been hit by a car while they were messaging on their phones or talking.

But what can we do when we cannot be without a cell phone? At least many adults may not be fully functional without having a phone in hand, but what about teens who die because they didn’t have a phone in their hands? They can live without this device, but there is so much beauty in this appliance (operating system, applications, internet, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter) plus the high exposure to it are the perfect combination to develop nomophobia. So, get to work! Show as an adult a responsible example, that time and the way you handle your phone is adequate because it is very difficult to require something from children when their parents are out of control as well. Regulate cell phone use at home, be encouraged to lose the popularity you have with your children, for example, "banned the use of cell during lunchtime”, teens are hardly self-controlled, and less with something as attractive as this new communication and information technologies. That is precisely the reason why parents should act by controlling. Do not offer your children phones with unlimited service, because their behavior will also be negatively unlimited. They will send all the messages they want, surfing whenever they want, and call all their friends for "free”. Those are risk factors for cell dependence or nomophobia. Just remember, teens are in the process of becoming adults and be responsible, but they aren’t there yet, they need you as a leader, guide, and mentor while achieving full maturity. With actions like this you keep them afar not only from electronic dependency but from many other dangers.

Apart from nomophobia, there is an even bigger problem that is related to adults, not only children. Have you ever had the feeling that your phone is vibrating in your pocket and it’s not, in reality, it’s a false feeling? Well, you are not alone! The so-called phantom vibration syndrome it’s something very real and it happens to a lot of people. We are so dependent on our cell phones that we even believe that we feel them even if they are not with us. Many scientists wanted to find out why we believe that our phone is vibrating when it’s not.

Our cell phone goes with us everywhere and it is so integrated into our daily lives that it is not strange to feel vibrations and ringtones that never existed. We are not crazy, but we are facing an increasingly common physiological condition: the phantom vibration syndrome, which occurs as a result of our anxiety because something is happening to our phone.

We anticipate using our phone and to any stimulation in the area, for example in the leg, our brain interprets it as if the cell is vibrating or ringing, and that is exactly what we want to transpire. There are two skin receptors that register phantom vibrations and they are devoted separately at low and high rates. The mobile vibration falls exactly in the middle (30 to 180 Hz) so that either receptor may be capable of noticing it. The more we are dependent on our phones, any vibration that our skin receptors detect can be taken to mean as coming from the mobile, thus suffering from phantom vibration syndrome.

In 2012, a research with two thousand campus graduate students was directed. 90% admitted feeling that their phone was vibrating when in reality it wasn’t. 9 of every 10 participants sad that this problem troubled him/her little or not at all, accepting it already as a normal occurrence.

The whole thing is part of fretfulness. While in general more apprehensive people are, the greater the odds of suffering from phantom vibration syndrome, which might be related to the heavy use of phones, especially smartphones. A specific group that often feels phantom vibrations on their mobile are health workers, this may be because they are continuously on alert.

The average user or a smartphone uses the phone 150 times a day. The solution to this curious physiological phenomenon would be in giving yourself brakes, leaving the phone aside and starting a relaxing activity that has nothing to do with technology, at least for about 30 minutes. We all need and love our phones. They make our lives easier, provide us with indispensable information, and connect us with the society. But can we interact with people meanwhile? Can we go for a coffee with a friend and actually participate in a conversation without staring in our smartphone? Be present at a family gathering and interact with our elders? For the past years whenever we go out we can see the same pictures in restaurants, bars, cafes, movies, theaters, parks… less and less people talking and more and more people playing with their phone, writing to someone else, avoiding the person they are with at that moment. Losing precious time for something that is virtual and not actually here. Even older people are doing the same. You can see a couple reading a newspaper on their phone, or writing to some mutual friends. And you hear them from time to time: Bertha said this about you, and Sam put a picture of you online! Do you want to see it, want me to read it to you? Maybe people lost the ability to converse with others and adopted the "talking to others online” instead. Should we follow the syndrome or try and make an effort to avoid it? Maybe just a little and that way be more present in our actual life, not the virtual one.


1 comment

I would have banned children to use the cell phone. The nervous system needs to get stronger. They need to experience the quality of life without a phone.
Back to top