Nomophobia is a disorder that arises in the 21st century, derived from globalization and the technological advances that we have experienced in the field of communication. This disorder is defined as the fear of not being in contact with a mobile phone or smartphone.
We use these devices on a daily basis to communicate, inform ourselves, watch videos, listen to music, take photos, and do a host of other things, anytime, anywhere. We have information and communication just one click away, making our lives easier and more practical. In fact, every year the number of people who own smartphones is increasing: currently, an estimated 3.8 billion people are users of these devices.
However, this accepted daily use in our society also has its negative consequences. One of the main and most problematic is nomophobia.
Nomophobia has also been shown to cause the development of other mental or personality disorders, as well as self-esteem problems, seriously affecting people's happiness, especially in the younger population. All this has a great impact on the general health of the person, in addition to having a negative impact on other aspects of life such as study and work by creating a strong dependence on mobile phones, causing constant distractions and an inability to maintain concentration.
At the social level, it has been shown to affect relationships and interactions between individuals, producing a distance and isolation from the physical world. For this reason, it is important to stop the problem as soon as possible by starting a mobile addiction treatment to minimize the consequences.
Symptoms Of Nomophobia
People look for a partner online and break up with her/him using WhatsApp, conversations are held with many strangers and every detail (images, videos, or comments) of his/her own life is posted on social media. And this is a problem that, as mentioned before, occurs more frequently among the young.
What happens if this common thread of social relationships is cut? Anxiety, nervousness, obsessive thoughts, resistance to stress and even panic attacks arise. And all of them are typical of a situation of dependency or addiction.
Among the various symptoms that we find in people who suffer from nomophobia, the main ones are the following:
• Use the mobile phone regularly and dedicate more and more time to it, taking it away from other activities such as study, work, meeting friends, leisure, etc.
• Have two or more devices and always carry a charger with you.
• Feeling anxious and nervous at the idea of losing your own phone, not having it nearby or available, or not being able to use it due to being "out of place", due to lack of connection, discharged battery, etc.
• Continued use of the mobile in places and situations in which its use is prohibited or dangerous (driving, walking, in the cinema or theater, restaurants, etc.). These places may also be avoided so that you can continue using the phone.
• Continuously look at the phone screen to see if you have received messages or calls.
• Keep your mobile phone always on (24 hours a day) and sleep with it in bed.
• Have few face-to-face social interactions, preferring to communicate using new technologies.
• Repeatedly trying to control, reduce or stop the use of the mobile.
• Contract debts or large expenses for the use of the mobile phone.
• State of agitation, irritability, anxiety, disorientation, and often physical symptoms such as tachycardia, tremors, alterations in breathing, etc.
In a word, he/she is not able to disconnect from the electronic world that has been built because for him/her it means not to exist, which gives name to other disorders related to mobile dependence and which has recently been baptized as FOMO (fear missing out).
What Is The Best Treatment For Nomophobia?
Some of the objectives focused on are reducing the time spent on the mobile phone, online connections, distraction strategies, improving face-to-face relationships, and doing other activities to replace the time spent on the mobile such as, for example, doing sports.
To achieve this, the experts suggest working on catastrophic interpretations of possible events that the patient may think of what would happen if they were without a mobile for a long period of time. Also, focus on the conditioning of the fears that the patient may have and his/her avoidance behaviors. For all this, the use of diaries is essential: in them, patients record data on their daily use of the mobile phone.
Thus, with this type of therapy, the person's ability to concentrate on their behaviors will be increased, making them aware of how much time they spend using the phone, for what reasons they do it and what activities or situations they are not enjoying and sharing for that need to be connected.