Are You a Nomophobe?

You know that panicked feeling you get when you go to reach for your cell phone—and can’t find it anywhere?

(Until you realize it’s in your other hand…)

You just might have nomophobia: the fear of being away from your cell phone.

Coined as a part of a 2010 study on cell phone addiction, the word is a faux-Greek mashup of the phrase “no-mobile-phone phobia.”

That study found that over 50% of all people surveyed felt anxiety when separated from their cell phones—and that their anxiety was on par with going to the dentist, moving into a new home, or even pre-wedding jitters.

Some argue that nomophobia isn’t a real clinical phobia. And, like other modern afflictions such as internet addiction, it’s easy to laugh off the issue.

But just because it’s not yet in the DSM doesn’t mean there’s no cause for concern.

It wasn’t too long ago that people actually survived day-to-day without any kind of mobile devices. But since the rise of cell phones, smartphones, and apps, we’ve come to rely on our phones for more than just talking. We now use our phones for banking, checking the weather, getting directions, reading the news, shopping, and more. Then there’s the entertainment factor: There’s no longer any need to suffer silences or listen to your own thoughts when you can always listen to music or play a game on your phone.

With all they’re capable of, it’s really no wonder that we feel a bit of anxiety when we’re separated from our phones.

But if you’re constantly using your phone, it may be worth examining that reliance and how it’s affecting your mental, emotional, and physical health. You can see some of the scary effects of nomophobia researchers have found below.

You don’t need to quit using your smartphone cold turkey, or throw it in the trash. Instead, try just cutting back a bit: Leave it at home when you take a walk, or turn it off overnight.

You might be surprised at just how much you can live without it.


Transcript: Are You a Nomophobe?

Where can you find conversations, news, social networks, weather updates, and a plethora of mind numbing games? Your phone, of course. 75% of the world’s population has access to a mobile device, which is evident looking around any public place. How much is too much when it comes to being distracted by your device?

Your Health

Possible health concerns due to the use of smart devices

  • There is now a name for the fear of being without a cell phone, it is called nomophobia.
    • 73% of smartphone users feel panicked when they misplace their phone.
      • 84% of women feel panicked, while 63% of men feel panicked.
  • A survey by the Vision Council found that 70% of Americans squint and strain their eyes by looking at the small font and bright screens of smartphones.
    • This has the potential to develop into computer vision syndrome, a condition that can lead to dry eyes, difficulty focusing, and double vision.
  • “Text neck” is becoming common, it is a condition that arises from the stress and pressure that can be triggered by texting and browsing on your phone.
  • E. coli is found on 1 in 6 cell phones, due to close to 75% of people bringing their cell phones with them to the bathroom.
    • This can lead to diarrhea, urinary tract infections, and even kidney failure.
  • Research from the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute’s Lighting Research Center found that a two-hour exposure to light from devices can suppress melatonin by about 22%, making it more difficult to get to sleep.
  • The risk from long-term use of cellphones is still unknown, but various world health authorities are continually researching the impact they have on our health.

Smartphones & Adolescents

  • According to, in a recent survey given to 200 Korean youths, those addicted to their smartphone devices had a high risk of severe the psychopathologies.
    • These include somatic symptoms, attentional deficits, and aggression.
    • The younger they are, the more vulnerable they are to developing the tendencies.

In The Car

Distracted driving is any activity that could divert a person’s attention away from the primary task of driving. These distractions include using your navigation system, texting, watching a video, adjusting a radio, CD player or MP3 player and using your phone.

  • Distracted driving by the numbers
    • 10% of all drivers under the age of 20 involved in fatal crashes were reported as distracted at the time of the crash.
      • This age group has the largest proportion of drivers who were distracted.
    • Five seconds is the average time your eyes are off the road while texting.
      • When traveling at 55 mph, that’s enough time to cover the length of a football field blindfolded.
    • About 25% of all car crashes involve cell phone use, including hands-free features, such as an earpiece, dashboard system, or speakerphone.
      • 21% of these crashes occur when people are having a conversation on the phone, and 4% occur as a result of text messaging.
    • Your field of view narrows by 50% when talking on any kind of cellphone.
      • Your brain is only able to process half of what you see when you are distracted.
    • Studies show that using the voice-to-text option is actually more distracting than typing texts by hand.

At Home

Would you rather be connected to the world, or connected to your spouse/family?

  • 3 out of 5 U.S. smartphone users don’t go more than an hour without checking their gadgets.
  • 3 out of 4 people report having their cell phone within five feet of them at all times.
  • 12% of smartphone users use their phones while showering and 39% while on the toilet.
  • 12% of respondents of a Jumio survey said their smartphone gets in the way of their relationship.
    • 20% of Americans between the ages of 18-34 use their cell phone during sex.
  • According to a study by Lookout, 54% of respondents said they check their phones while in bed (before going to sleep, in the middle of the night and when they wake up in the morning).

Smartphones have diminished the thought of a 9-5 workday

With email and technology at our fingertips, many companies expect employees to stay connected at all hours of the day, taking away from precious family time.

In Public

We observe and learn to interact with those that are different from us when we are in public. However, with the distractions cause by mobile devices we lose this interaction and the potential to grow and learn.

  • 33% of people use a smartphone while on a date.
  • 19% of smartphone users use their phones in church/places of worship.
  • 35% of people look to their smart device as a crutch in public.
    • o 33% of people have used their smartphone to look busy in a restaurant or bar, when in reality, they aren’t.
    • o 41% of people use their phones to avoid looking uneducated in front of others.
      • Instead of debating the answer to a question, they pull it up right on their phone.
  • Distracted Walking
  • A study by Despina Stavrinos of the University of Alabama at Birmingham found distracted walking has become an issue.
    • Compared to when they crossed the street without any distraction, people on the phone reached the other side of the street:
      • With less time to spare
      • Missed more opportunities to cross safely
      • Had more close calls.
    • The issue was only a problem with smartphones – not with music devices.

What Can You do About It?

Here are some tips to distract you from your phone.

  • Don’t check your phone an hour before you go to bed or for an hour after you wake up.
  • Read a traditional, paper book at night instead of a book on a smart device to get to sleep faster.
  • Keep your phone in your pocket or in your purse while you are in the car.
    • You will be less likely to grab it out of habit if it is tucked away and out of site.
  • Institute a time each night you and your partner will turn your phone on silent (or off).
  • Give your children a maximum amount of time they are allowed to spend on devices each day so it is regulated.
  • Consider instituting a “no device” policy at mealtimes and other family functions.


  • What is Distracted Driving? –
  • Distracted Driving Awareness Month – Shocking Stats & Tips for Staying Safe –
  • Your Smartphone May Be Powering down Your Relationship –
  • 20% Of Adults Use Smartphones During Sex: How Can Cell Phones Hurt Our Relationships? –
  • Where Do You Take Your Phone? –
  • How Smartphones Could Be Ruining Your Relationship –
  • How to Stop Tech Ruining Your Home Life –
  • Mobile Mindset Study –
  • Walking With Headphones: Only Dangerous Sometimes –
  • Smartphones Are Killing Us – and Destroying Public Life –
  • Most Americans Would Use Smartphones In Public Restrooms And In Bed, Survey Shows –
  • Cell Phone Health: Your Favourite Phone May Be Harming Your Health –
  • Your Tablet and Smartphone Could Be Ruining Your Sleep –
  • Ban Portable Electronics Before Bed for More Restful Sleep –
  • Nomophobia –

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4 Comments to “Are You a Nomophobe?”

  1. This is the first time I have heard a word Nomophobia and I think I am nomophobic too. I also get panicked when I misplace my cell phone.

  2. I think that Nomophobia is a serious topic. People are so concerned about this material item, that they lose interest in the real world. Phones are causing more people to be antisocial. People are also lacking people skills because of this.

  3. I think I’m not a nomophobia because my parents took away my phone because they say that I need to focus in school.. so now I’m used to not having a phone and I don’t really care about it. I think my parents did a really good job of raising me.

  4. I agree that this is a growing concern. This is because we have accumulated all our solutions for various problems into ONE DEVICE – Mobile. And we get addicted to it at a point.

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