Nomophobia: how do you know if you are really addicted to your cell phone?

Do you feel anxious when your cell phone is away from you? Then you may be plagued by nomophobia. In France, according to INSEE, more than 9 out of 10 people (95% of over 15s) own a mobile phone. Text messages, emails, music, social networks, photos, films and series, weather, GPS, online games… On average, we consult it 221 times a day. If the appearance of this tool in everyday life has brought many benefits, it also raises some problems.

What is nomophobia?

The term “nomophobia” comes from the contraction of the English “no mobile phobia”. It designates, as its name suggests, fear of not having your phone handy. Its use has been democratized since the publication of a study conducted by YouGov in 2008, for the UK Post Officeaccording to which 53% of smartphone users have symptoms of anxiety in case of loss, poor network coverage or low battery. And according to a study commissioned by Bouygues Telecom in 2018, 62% of French people cannot manage without their phone for a whole day. Nomophobia translates into a panic fear at the idea of:

  • losing or forgetting your phone ;
  • break his phone;
  • to have his phone stolen;
  • of run out of battery ;
  • of do not have an internet network
  • or not being able to use an application that seems essential at a given time.

This disorder is still not listed by the DSM-V (the diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders), but it is well considered a “disease” of the modern worldlinked to the development of social networks and virtual communication.

Who are the people most affected by nomophobia?

The first affected by nomophobia are teenagers and under 25s, but also some hyper-connected professionals. The first, because nomophobia translates the underlying fear of being isolated from a group. The latter, it is rather performance anxiety that enjoins them to be constantly reachable in the context of their work.

Addiction maybe more or less pronouncedbut several attitudes can put you in the ear:

  • consult your smartphone as soon as you wake up and have eyes constantly riveted on his smartphone (in the street, in transport, in shops, in restaurants, etc.);
  • turn your smartphone on and off every 5 minutes;
  • scroller without thinking – and for hours – on the applications and withdrawing into oneself;
  • to feel the need to have your phone on you at all times to answer the phone, emails, messages;
  • constantly listen to music, videos, podcasts, or play online games via your smartphone;
  • constantly calling those around you for anecdotes or just for the pleasure of talking;
  • feel panic when his laptop is no longer visible or the battery is draining quickly;
  • identify uncomfortable tension in the thumb joint (Quervain’s tendonitis).

What causes phone addiction?

The development of nomophobia is directly related to the growing dependence on information and the immediacy of interactionsfavored by social networks.

This phenomenon can also be linked to certain personality traits, which are more receptive to the reward system. The anxious people by nature, or subject to disorders such as obsessive compulsive disorder are also more likely to become addicted to mobile phones.

What are the different risks associated with using a smartphone?

Nomophobia can have several repercussions on health, both physically and mentally. Numerous studies conducted since 2008 underline that 18-25 year olds are particularly likely to suffer from:

  • social isolation ;
  • digital burn-out;
  • intolerance of the frustrations of real life;
  • of ophthalmic migraines ;
  • sleep disturbances;
  • hearing loss;
  • of musculoskeletal problems (hand, thumb, elbow, shoulders, cervical);
  • a decrease in certain cognitive abilities, such as memory, language, attention and concentration;
  • but also of a decrease in self-esteem.

According to a study by Monash University (Australia), published in the journal International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health in 2020, nomophobia would even be leading to dangerous or even illegal behavior, like using your cell phone while driving. A total of 99.2% of participants in this study reported some form of nomophobia, or some degree of fear of not having their smartphone with them. More than eight out of ten volunteers had a mild to moderate level of nomophobia, but no less than 13.2% of the sample were considered to suffer from severe nomophobia (source 1). And the researchers conclude:

Our results prove that the fear of not having one’s mobile phone can lead to problematic addictive, forbidden or dangerous use, each of which can present significant health risks, such as overuse, antisocial use or use. reckless and physically compromising.

A life without a smartphone? It seems hard to imagine these days. Fortunately, there is no question of drastic measures to limit the use of his mobile phone. Several reflexes make it possible to fool nomophobia.

Pay attention to your emotions when looking at your phone

When we check smartphone, which happens several dozen to several hundred times a day, we rarely pay attention to what we feel, because we perform this check mechanically. Still, focusing on the emotions one feels when checking one’s phone can help bring awareness to what’s behind it: is it a need to deceive boredom? a fear of loneliness? just a reflex? Does checking email or social media notifications make us feel better or worse? These are some questions that allow us to learn about the link we have with technology.

Plan your time and establish rules to avoid dependency

Without realizing it, we can spend several minutes to several hours a day staring at our smartphone. So much time that makes us miss important family moments, that makes us eat too quickly, or lose efficiency. Researchers advise toset up a schedule for using the phone (by only allowing yourself to watch it once an hour, for example),use controller applications (Oneward, AppDetox, Checky…) who coach us, or to adhere to certain rules, for example that of do not use our smartphone at the tableor leave him out of the bedroom.

Charge your phone in another room

Whether you are at work, with family or about to go to bed, when the smartphone indicates “low battery”, it’s easy and tempting to plug your phone into a nearby electrical outlet, to keep it close. A good way to self-regulate and become aware of potential addiction is to force yourself to charge your phone in another roomor at least within a few meters range.

This simple advice is all the more important at bedtime, because the blue light emitted by screens interferes with the secretion of melatonin, the sleep hormone. Leave the smartphone out of the bedroom is therefore a good way to reclaim this place, to preserve it from negative waves, literally and figuratively, and to get rid of this state of over-stimulation of the mind enemy of restful sleep.

Some other tips to reduce the use of your laptop:

  • Limit notifications in your settings: applications compete with solicitations to lure us into their nets. By choosing the banner style and the regularity of the notifications, you limit the temptation.
  • Delete your social media apps and consult directly Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter etc. from your smartphone browser
  • Treat yourself to breaks without screens: when no imperative constrains you, go shopping or for a walk with your hands in your pockets.
  • At the restaurant, in the evening, when you share a moment with your family or colleagues, keep your phone in a jacket pocket or bagnot on the table.
  • Bet on your laptop’s “sleep mode”: before going to sleep, switch to airplane mode and even better, move it away so as not to be tempted to consult it at night.
  • To avoid throwing yourself on your laptop as soon as you wake up, invest in a real alarm clock. And while we’re at it, remember to check your watch, rather than the home screen of your laptop.
  • In the morning, resist the urge to immediately grab your laptop. Take the time to wake up and get ready before consulting him. The most seasoned can wait until they leave their homes, or even arrive at work to deactivate airplane mode.
  • Another tip: diversify the sources of well-being such as sports, outings with family and friends and the practice of activities such as yoga, relaxation and meditation.

In video: Limiting screen consumption is possible!

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