Recently, a certain news article caught my attention - it spoke about a new phobia that’s apparently afflicting thousands, if not millions around the globe. And why should you be bothered? Because the phobia in question is Nomophobia or ‘no-mobile-phone’ phobia, a term used to refer to the fear of being out of mobile phone contact. And its symptoms? Obsessively checking the phone for updates, inability to switch off the phone, fear of losing phone, anxiety when running out of battery, or when in no coverage areas and much more. There are several studies that have been undertaken on this phenomenon, including one in India. The survey has revealed interesting statistics.
In the U.S., a survey conducted by the developers of Lookout app revealed that three out of five people in U.S. could not go for more than one hour without checking their phone. While 94 percent of the surveyed group worried about losing their phone, it is the inconvenience of replacing the device that bothered 62 percent of them. In another interesting statistic on ‘where do people check their phone’, 54 percent revealed while in bed, 39 percent admitted they checked their phone in the toilet and close to 30 percent responded that they check their phone while eating.
How long can you stay away from your phone, without breaking down?
On the other hand, in UK, a recent study conducted by SecurEnvoy that surveyed 1000 people revealed that 66 percent people admitted that they feared losing their phone. The survey also found that 77 percent of young adults in the age-group of 18-24 found it most difficult to stay away from their phone for more than a few minutes. Interestingly, it revealed that people on average check their phone more than 30 times a day and a staggering 75 percent admitted to using their phone in the bathroom.
On the home front, a similar study that is being conducted by Indore-based Mahatma Gandhi Medical College doctors, has revealed that 45 percent of respondents aged between 18-30 are nomophobic. They found that people used cellphones for at least three hours a day and 73 percent of respondents admitted having their mobile phones with them when they slept, while 12 percent of the respondents were of the opinion that they couldn’t do without mobile phones.
While these statistics give us insights into the mobile phone usage or should we say dependence, my question is should it be considered a phobia? In today’s day and age, a smartphone is more than just a communication device, as it fulfills a lot of other needs. While researchers have supplemented their studies by citing instances of people who communicate more via phone than in person, I would like to believe that not all is lost.
As to the fear of losing the phone, I guess it extends to every piece of gadget and more so for a phone, simply for the fact that it has all our contacts that we have built over the years. Losing that data, especially when you do not have a backup can be a nightmare. Additionally, there is the expense of replacing the phone. However, having said that, one cannot totally rule out the possibility of nomophobia, especially amongst the youth. But I would like to believe that it’s just a passing phase, don’t you think?