Nomophobia (no-mobile-phone phobia), not an official diagnosis, but refers to the anxiety people feel when they are separated from their mobile phone. This may be due to not having their phone, lack of service connection, or a dead battery. It can result in a range of anxiety symptoms. It can also be a symptom of social anxiety.
(Not to be confused with the existing, clinically accepted disorder of nomophobia which refers to a fear of laws, rules and regulations).
We all love being able to take photos on our phones, keep up to date with who is doing what, and share our lives quickly and vibrantly with our friends, family and anyone else who is interested. However, it is easy for our phones to encroach too much into our lives. The ironic and sad situation is that despite us wanting to use our phones to increase connections in our lives, it is easy for our phone use to interfere with our ability to feel and be connected. How do you know if your phone use may be interfering with your life?
The ironic and sad situation is that despite us wanting to use our phones to increase connectedness in our lives, it is easy for our phone use to interfere with our ability to feel and be connected
A little checklist of some behaviours that may indicate an unhealthy reliance on your mobile phone
Three ways your mobile phone use may interfere with making connections in your life
1. When you avoid or minimise face to face interaction you are missing the opportunities to develop soft social skills like reading non-verbal communication. If your conversation involves communicating feelings, other than just an exchange of information, you miss the opportunities to choose your tone of voice and enhance your message with non-verbal communication. We have all experienced the situation of trying to figure out what someone 'meant' in a text.
2. If you are 'phubbing' your friend or partner, ie, if you are prioritising taking a call, responding to a text ahead of speaking with the person in front of you, what do you think that does for building lasting connections? You are sending your 'in-person' friend that they are less important than the person on the other end of the phone.
3. If you have anxiety and are using your phone as a distraction, this may stop you learning and using more productive and longer lasting calming techniques. Your phone, like any other distraction technique is only a short term solution.
What if my mobile phone is off?
There is some research that suggests simply being able to see a mobile phone or have it within easy reach, even when it is switched off reduces concentration - "because part of their brain is actively working to not pick up or use the phone" https://www.sciencedaily.com/releas…/2017/…/170623133039.htm. So if you are sitting with someone but knowing you could be checking your phone, that is distracting.
More research into this is required - but isn't that an amazing thing to think about. So next time rather than have your phone near you and off, maybe experiment with putting it out of sight where you would have to move to get it. And if you think using your phone may be masking some anxiety, there is always help available to learn some more sustainable strategies.
* My aim is for these posts is meant to useful, interesting and/or inspiring. They are not designed to be used for therapy..
Kim Dunn is a Child Psychologist and Founder of Positive Young Minds.