Smartphone has become an integral part of our lives in recent years, as they are used both for communication needs and the ability to perform a large number of tasks on the go. For many people, it is hard to imagine modern life without them.
In some cases, people have reported that they have felt strange after they realized that they forgot their smartphone at home. Many mentioned mild panic or anxiety, but others have reported the urge to return and grab their device even if the detour could lead to delays.
A survey that took place in 2019 revealed that 44% of participants reported at least a minor form of anxiety if they lost access to their phone, a phenomenon which has garnered the interest of researchers throughout the years and is known under the name of nomophobia.
The name surfaced almost a decade ago, when the spread of smartphone devices was still in the early stages. It is used as an umbrella term for a set of symptoms that include anxiety, distress, and general discomfort. Since nomophobia isn’t mentioned in the DSM, it is not deemed to be an official diagnosis.
Exploring the phenomenon
A team of researchers conducted a recent study that explored how the interaction between humans and smartphones in the case of 495 participants. The participants received two questionnaires, one tied to their user habits and one which explored the presence of negative symptoms.
The survey revealed that participants who used their smartphones on a daily basis were most likely to experience negative feelings if they lost access to their devices. Obsessive-compulsive tendencies were also associated with a higher fear of losing their devices.
Researchers aren’t able to explain the source of nomophobia for now, but it is associated with a fear of isolation and of being unable to use essential communication tools.
A paper has been published in a scientific journal.