If you were told you couldn’t look at your smartphone for the next two hours, would that be a problem?
Two hours seems minimal, doesn’t it? But not being able to Google anything, call anyone, check for messages, reply on Whatsapp, check your calendar or locate your way to a meeting, has the potential to leave us feeling anxious.
That anxious feeling has a name…
Researchers from the USA have found people experience ‘smartphone separation anxiety’ more than they realise.
It might seem ridiculous, but many of us can identify with genuinely feeling like something is missing when you’ve left your phone at home, or the sheer panic when God-forbid you can’t find it in your coat pocket.
Caglar Yildirim, a doctoral student in Iowa State’s Human Computer Interaction program wanted to dig more into this idea to understand why and how it affects people.
He worked with Ana-Paula Correia, an associate professor at Iowa State University School of Education, to create a two-part study, which will be published in August.
Initially, they interviewed nine undergraduate students about how they felt when separated from their smartphone, and found four major characteristics of nomophobia:
1. Can’t communicate
People feel insecure when they can’t text or call their friends and family.
2. Lost connectedness
People feel they’re disconnected from their online identity.
3. Can’t access information
People feel inadequate because they can’t Google answers to their questions or find directions with a swipe, for example.
4. It’s inconvenient
People feel annoyed that they can’t accomplish simple tasks, such as making plans or dinner reservations, as easily without a smartphone.
The second part was 20 questions to access the severity of the condition.
Sounds dramatic, right? But try leaving your smartphone at home by your bed for a whole day and we bet you’ll experience some of those characteristics.
The researchers found that women were 3.6 times more likely to experience the separation anxiety than men.
“There can be some underlying psychological mechanisms that play a role in females’ proclivity to nomophobia, but we are still working on that,” Yildirim said.
But before you start pointing at all the women you know laughing at their inability to detach themselves from the thing, researchers have said it’s not actually that bad.
“[It’s] not something that should be condemned or banned,” said Yildirim.
She explained that negative problems would only arise if this really affect their mental wellbeing.
Robert Weiss, a senior vice president of clinical development at Elements Behavioral Health, a Long Beach, California addiction treatment center, added that these devices help us stay connected and develop bonds so we shouldn’t fear that it’s going to be an addiction.
We weren’t fearing that…
So if you’re bound to know how nomophobic you are, try Today’s Health quiz below…
Determine your level by rating the following statements on a scale from one to seven, where one is strongly disagree and seven is strongly agree. Score yourself by adding up the numbers: the higher the number, the more severe your nomophobia. No cheating please.
I would feel uncomfortable without constant access to information through my smartphone.
I would be annoyed if I could not look information up on my smartphone when I wanted to do so.
Being unable to get the news (e.g., happenings, weather, etc.) on my smartphone would make me nervous.
I would be annoyed if I could not use my smartphone and/or its capabilities when I wanted to do so.
Running out of battery in my smartphone would scare me.
If I were to run out of credits or hit my monthly data limit, I would panic.
If I did not have a data signal or could not connect to Wi-Fi, then I would constantly check to see if I had a signal or could find a Wi-Fi network.
If I could not use my smartphone, I would be afraid of getting stranded somewhere.
If I could not check my smartphone for a while, I would feel a desire to check it.
If I did not have my smartphone with me:
I would feel anxious because I could not instantly communicate with my family and/or friends.
I would be worried because my family and/or friends could not reach me.
I would feel nervous because I would not be able to receive text messages and calls.
I would be anxious because I could not keep in touch with my family and/or friends.
I would be nervous because I could not know if someone had tried to get a hold of me.
I would feel anxious because my constant connection to my family and friends would be broken.
I would be nervous because I would be disconnected from my online identity.
I would be uncomfortable because I could not stay up-to-date with social media and online networks.
I would feel awkward because I could not check my notifications for updates from my connections and online networks.
I would feel anxious because I could not check my email messages.
I would feel weird because I would not know what to do.
Care to share your results?