Do You Know Someone With A Smartphone Anxiety Disorder?

Do You Know Someone With A Smartphone Anxiety Disorder?

Have you ever seen someone who cannot put his or her Smartphone down? Have you seen young people who walk down the sidewalk while texting or looking at their phone? Do you sit at dinner in a nice restaurant with your spouse and use or read your Smartphone?

Do you know someone, or do you possibly have a Smartphone phobia? What is a Smartphone or Cell Phone Anxiety Disorder? These are questions being asked of our society every day now.

What Is A Phobia?

Dinner with your Smartphone
Friends with Smartphones dining at restaurant all looking at their phones and not talking

Google’s English dictionary provided by Oxford Languages from the Oxford University Press sums it up pretty well as the first thing that comes up searching for this question “What is a Phobia”?

Definitions from Oxford Languages

Nomophobia

Nomophobia
Desperate woman searching mobile phone coverage

There is a new term called Nomophobia (short for ‘no mobile phone phobia’). From the Journal of Family Medicine and Primary Care, we get the definition below describing this psychological condition.

The term NOMOPHOBIA or NO MObile PHone PhoBIA is used to describe a psychological condition when people have a fear of being detached from mobile phone connectivity.

The NOMOPHOBIA: NO MObile PHone PhoBIA paper also says, “the term “phobia” is a misnomer, because mostly it seems to be a kind of anxiety disorder.”

Journal of Family Medicine and Primary Care

Nomophobia is a word for fear or anxiety caused by not having a working cellular phone. There is a proposal for including the term Nomophobia in the new DSM-V, the Diagnostic, and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM).

Anxiety Disorder

Anxiety Disorder
Anxiety Disorder

From the National Institute for Mental Health, we get a definition of Anxiety Disorders:

Generalized Anxiety Disorder

“People with generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) display excessive anxiety or worry, most days for at least 6 months, about a number of things such as personal health, work, social interactions, and everyday routine life circumstances. The fear and anxiety can cause significant problems in areas of their life, such as social interactions, school, and work.”

National Institute of Mental Health

Generalized anxiety disorder symptoms include:

  • Feeling restless, wound-up, or on-edge
  • Being easily fatigued
  • Having difficulty concentrating; mind going blank
  • Being irritable
  • Having muscle tension
  • Difficulty controlling feelings of worry
  • Having sleep problems, such as difficulty falling or staying asleep, restlessness, or unsatisfying sleep

Anxiety about Your Smartphone, Cell Phone, or Mobil Phone

Anxiety about Your Smartphone, Cell Phone, or Mobile Phone
Anxiety about Your Smartphone, Cell Phone, or Mobile Phone

Because all of the terms Smartphone, Cell Phone, and Mobile Phone terms are often used interchangeably, we use a Smartphone for this article. Technically, the term Nomophobia implies an anxiety disorder related to the loss of a Smartphone’s mobile internet or cellular connectivity.

The consequences of such an emotional disorder can undoubtedly lead to a person’s unhappiness, inappropriate behavior, nervousness, or the inability to enjoy a full (and not online) life.

The five major types of anxiety disorders:

  • Generalized Anxiety Disorder
  • Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
  • Panic Disorder
  • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
  • Social Anxiety Disorder

Is A Phobia The Same As An Addiction?

Wikipedia describes addiction, as “Addiction is a brain disorder characterized by compulsive engagement in rewarding stimuli despite adverse consequences.”

It sounds pretty dangerous, and we have observed the term “Smartphone Addiction” being used.

Is Smartphone Addiction Really An Addiction?

Is Smartphone Addiction Really An Addiction
Parents addicted to smartphones while child sitting boring

Smartphone addiction disorder is not recognized in psychiatry manuals. Still, these are also issues new to our society with new technology, as you can see on the base word Phobia definition chart above. The words Phobia or Addiction were not really used or recognized until the early 1900s.

There is also an excellent article from the Journal of Behavioral Addictions with the exact name “Is Smartphone Addiction Really an Addiction?” As described in the paper:

“The behaviors observed in the research could be better labeled as problematic or maladaptive smartphone use, and their consequences do not meet the severity levels of those caused by addiction.”

Leave Your Smartphone at Home for the Day and See What Happens

Leave Your Smartphone at Home for the Day and See What Happens
Leave Your Smartphone at Home for the Day and See What Happens

Whether “Smartphone Addiction” is a type, classification, or addiction, it is tough to be without it once you have a Smartphone. A smartphone is not just a phone or even a Cell or Mobile Phone; it is a mobile connection to the internet among a myriad of other things.

Have you ever been with or seen someone where they have to check if there are any new messages on their Mobile Phone every five minutes? Even during conversations with friends or family, all thoughts are on the phone.

As we discuss in other articles we have written, “What Can Your Smartphone Do Without Cell Service or Wifi?” or “Your Cell Phone Was Born in the U.S. Military,” you have the following attributes and apps just to name a few that come on the typical Smartphone of today.

Smartphone Attributes

Smartphone Attributes
Apple iPhone 12 Pro Max
  • Alarms and Calendar notices (My personal favorite)
  • Audio and Digital Books
  • Camera, Photos, and Videos
  • Calculator
  • Cellular-Mobil Telephone
  • Clock
  • Compass
  • GPS
  • Internet Access
  • Flashlight
  • Maps
  • Music
  • Notes
  • Spreadsheet
  • Text
  • Voice Memos

So what’s not to be addicted to, right? You have a mini-computer in your pocket that rivals most desktop computers for capacity and speed.

Smartphone Anxiety Disorder, Phobia, Addiction Test

Smartphone Anxiety Disorder, Phobia, Addiction Test
Smartphone Anxiety Disorder, Phobia, Addiction Test

There is an excellent article with the link below called “Depression, anxiety, and smartphone addiction in university students- A cross-sectional study.” Whether there is a consensus or not in the healthcare community on the classification of these disorders, something is definitely going on with people today regarding their mobile devices.

How can you test yourself? Do you suffer from smartphone dependence? Alternatively, maybe you want to understand. Should you worry about your family, children, or friend’s emotional state, suspecting one of them of possible Cell Phone Addiction or Nomophobia? Scientists have formulated several distinctive signs to determine this disorder accurately.

Signs of Smartphone Nomophobia, Anxiety Disorder, Dependence, or Addiction:

*Many of these signs can be normal behavior but taken to an extreme; they can become a compulsion or addiction.

  • Difficulties With Sleep

A person with Nomophobia needs to keep a phone close to the bed at all times. In advanced cases, you can even wake up several times during the night and check messages on the phone.

  • You Are Using Your Mobile Phone Everywhere, Even In The Bathroom
You Are Using Your Mobile Phone Everywhere, Even In The Bathroom
You Are Using Your Mobile Phone Everywhere, Even In The Bathroom

Can we maybe agree that in the bathroom, a person should be alone with himself or herself? Each of us must have a special relationship with this room. If you take your device even there, this is a possible signal that you are addicted to it. Moreover, you can accidentally drop your cell phone in the bathtub or toilet.

  • You Are Continually Looking For A Cell Phone Charger

Suppose your phone battery is rarely fully charged, and you are always looking for a phone charger. In that case, this could also be either a smartphone addiction sign or you are forgetful.

  • You Are Not Careful

This possible sign consists of the fact that, for example, by typing messages on the sidewalk or in the street, you create a danger for yourself and others. It is incredibly risky if you cannot stop using or texting your Smartphone while driving a vehicle.

You can also cross the road and not notice a passing vehicle, or stumble and get injured. Alternatively, you are driving a car and checking messages. If something like this has happened to you, you need to think about your addiction to the cell phone.

  • You Have Installed Many Useless Apps

Smartphone applications can be useful or a waste of time, for example, games or social networks. In addition, the more apps you have, the more they can take your valuable time on a Smartphone.

  • You Are Very Uncomfortable or Nervous Without A Smartphone

You forgot your mobile phone at home or left it for half a day for repairs, and it makes you very uncomfortable? It shows your propensity for Smartphone Anxiety Disorder.

  • Feeling Insecure Without A Smartphone

If you continuously check messages, comments, voicemail, phone calls, and experience sadness when you do not have new notifications, then there is a problem.

  • You Are Constantly Changing Or Replacing Your Smartphone

Addicted people change their Smartphone devices very often. They are also always checking or changing the accessories and appearance of their smartphones.

  • You Are Hiding In The Phone

If you get to an awkward situation, you instantly put your face in Smartphone and hide from everyone engrossed in your phone. You start to search for something, to write messages, or call someone.

  • Losing Your Phone Is A Tragedy
Losing Your Phone Is A Tragedy
Woman searching for her lost Smartphone

There is no question that losing a $1,400.00 Apple iPhone 12 Pro Max is not any fun, but it is not the end of the world. If an addicted person loses their phone, they can neither eat, nor sleep, nor work until the situation is corrected.

Smartphone Compulsion Test

Reasons for Smartphone Dependence

Excessive use of smartphones paired with negative attitudes and feelings of anxiety and dependency on mobile devices may increase the risk of anxiety and depression.

Several studies have found that females exhibit a higher level of attachment to and dependence on their cell phones compared with men.

Why do some people use their phones adequately, and others have an obsession with them? Psychologists indicate the following causes of smartphone addiction:

Reasons for Smartphone Dependence
Reasons for Smartphone Dependence
  • Most often, somebody who does not know how to communicate with people is subject to Smartphone dependence. Such individuals almost certainly suffer from other complexes. Indeed, unlike offline communication, when texting and messaging on an App, you do not need to look in someone’s eyes or choose the right tone for the conversation.
  • Smartphone dependence arises when a person does not want to solve problems, like an adult, but prefers to hide from difficulties and expect them to disappear somehow. Thus, it is convenient for them to live in a virtual world and not be responsible for anything. They can quickly remove unpleasant online people from their networks and thereby stay calm.
  • Insecure people are subject to Nomophobia. On the one hand, some of their shortcomings embarrass them, and they are more comfortable communicating with people online. On the other hand, they cannot make decisions alone and bear responsibility for this. It is easier for them to ask a question to the online community and then choose the most suitable option.
  • Smartphone addiction can affect people that have perhaps uninteresting lives without many new events. If it is monotonous, and on a social media network, they can be anyone. They can take risks anonymously and gets their adrenaline flowing. In this way, they can possibly make their life more exciting and diverse.
  • Another reason for Nomophobia can be that constant interaction with phone calls, SMS and messages make people seem to be needed by someone. In everyday life, if they are lonely or alone, communication in a social media network of some kind may give them a feeling of social importance.

Some Tips on Dealing with Smartphone Nomophobia, Anxiety Disorder, Dependence, or Addiction

Some Tips on Dealing with Smartphone Nomophobia, Anxiety Disorder, Dependence, or Addiction
Some Tips on Dealing with Smartphone Nomophobia, Anxiety Disorder, Dependence, or Addiction

Do you feel that your Smartphone friend has become your overlord and master? Does it fill your whole life, steal all of your time, and without it, you are not a full-fledged person? Do not despair, Smartphone obsession is not necessarily as complicated to deal with as alcohol or drug addiction. Nevertheless, anxiety disorders and addictions are very real and should be dealt with when recognized.

Below you will possibly find practical advice that may help your situation and how to deal with these issues:

  • Analyze your life and find the reasons for your Smartphone Nomophobia, Anxiety Disorder, Dependence, or Addiction. If you understand that it is difficult for you to talk with people, live or try to hide from real problems on a Smartphone, then consult a counselor, therapist, psychologist, or 12-step group with such issues. There are many methods in the arsenal of a skilled specialist or group to help people become more responsible, decisive, and communicative.
  • If, as a result of your counseling, you found out that the cause of the addiction is the lack of positive events in your life, then try to start something new. Moreover, it does not need to be something extraordinary. For example, become a club member, or go swimming, horseback riding, or dancing. Visit exhibitions, cinemas, and theaters. Invite guests to your place and visit your friends. In any case, it can be better and more positive than living the illusion of life derived from a Smartphone.
  • In Social Media, many notifications do not mean that all those people need you necessarily. Many people feel more essential and more meaningful in a social media environment. However, if you disappear from the network for a few days, will they notice? Try getting out and seeing people in person and face to face. Attend social events in person.
  • Another tip on dealing with Smartphone Nomophobia, Anxiety Disorder, Dependence, or Addiction is as follows. Try changing your circle of friends and some essential habits. If your friends and colleagues cannot stop looking into their Smartphones, you may likely do the same. Suppose new acquaintance’s leave their phones and do not check them. In that case, you will likely not be as focused on your Smartphone either, and you can gradually forget about your device as well.
  • If you are looking for ways to wean your child from the constant use of a cell phone, then introduce them to some fun things to do. Make doing fun things in offline space and go to the park, swimming pool, or movie. Let your child feel that you need him, that you love and appreciate them very much. Spend more time with your child, listen to them, and then they may gladly leave an online world that lacks a positive interaction with a parent.
  • Another way to address Nomophobia is to delete all unnecessary applications from your Smartphone. In this case, the phone will require less of your attention. Buy a regular watch and an ordinary alarm clock. Then you do not have to use a Smartphone to “just check the time.” Many times, Smartphone attention starts with just checking the time, you then start reading the mail, messages on Facebook, finding new discounts, and so on.
  • Everything has its time. Spend more time with your friends and family and enjoy a real, not a virtual world. Start helping other people more, and then your self-esteem can increase. You should also feel the effects of doing for others, which is extremely important for your well-being.
  • Do not forget about a healthy diet and to be physically active. This new behavior requires some action, but the benefits are enormous for your mind and your body. Even 30 minutes a day of walking get your endorphins in your brain going. All this takes your time so that you can stay without your Smartphone for a while. You do not have to live for it.
Fghting Smartphone Nomophobia, Anxiety Disorder, Dependence, or Addiction
Fighting Smartphone Nomophobia, Anxiety Disorder, Dependence, or Addiction

Conclusion

Of course, fighting Smartphone Nomophobia, Anxiety Disorder, Dependence, or Addiction, like any other dependence, is not easy. However, to become truly happy and free, you need to put forth some effort. Try to concentrate on real-world events. Look out the window, pet a dog, feel, and smell the fresh air after the rain, or just stare at the stars in the night sky. All these little things help people overcome issues such as these. Even if your virtual world has some advantages, a life lived has ten times more. Start with small steps, and you can succeed!

References:

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6510111/

https://www.healthline.com/health/anxiety/nomophobia#symptoms

https://www.healthline.com/health/anxiety/nomophobia#causes

John Mortensen

I am a project manager, tech writer, and science enthusiast who loves to study the latest technology, such as AI, comedy, quantum computers, smartphones, headphones, and software.

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