What is Nomophobia?

April 5, 2016

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Are you paralyzed with anxiety when your battery icon turns red? Do you compulsively check your emails (even before you’ve rubbed the sleep from your eyes)? Do you take your phone to bed or to the washroom? If you answered yes to all three of these questions, you may have nomophobia. Nomophobia (short for no-mobile-phone phobia) is the fear of being without your smartphone. And if you think you’re addicted to your phone, you’re not alone.

Nomophobia Statistics:  

  • Up to 66% of adults suffer from nomophobia
  • 2 out of 3 people sleep with or next to their phones (among college students, the statistic is even higher)
  • 1 in 5 people would rather go without shoes for a week than separate from their phone.

In May 2015, Caglar Yildirim, a Ph.D. student in human-computer interaction, studied phone addiction and developed a nomophobia questionnaire to help diagnose people with smartphone separation anxiety. His research narrowed down our smartphone separation anxiety into four distinct characteristics:

  • Not being able to communicate with others
  • Losing our feeling of connectedness
  • Not being able to access information
  • Giving up convenience

Yildirim’s research builds on a University of Missouri study published in January 2015 which found that being separated from your phone can have real psychological and physiological effects, including impaired thinking.

Our cell phones have become an extension of our selves as well as digital pacifiers for adults, an object we unconsciously cling to even the most uncomfortable situations.

Who can forget the viral Instagram photo of “Scandal” actor Columbus Short clutching his charging cell phone amidst a pile of his clothes after his wife Karrine Steffans accused him of infidelity:


I’m a Nomophobe…Now what?

As with any problem, the first step is admitting there’s a problem. If you scored highly on the nomophobia questionnaire, here are some steps you can take to break free from your smartphone addiction:

Tune off at night

Laptop and smartphone screens are notorious for disrupting sleep, tricking your mind into thinking it’s still daylight and keeping you up late. Get some extra sleep by turning off at least an hour before bedtime.

Get an alarm clock

This may sound so 1990s, but an alarm clock can help stave off middle-of-the-night phone checking and help you wake up more focused and refreshed.

Turn off notifications

Notifications are perhaps the worst phone addiction triggers. Disable every notification – except for calls and texts – and you can cut down on compulsive phone checking.

There’s an app for that

If you’re constantly afraid of running out of juice, download the ChargeItSpot app so you can always find a free phone charging station near you!

Go phone-free when socializing

No one likes it when their date or friend is constantly checking their phone when you’re out with them. Set a good example by keeping your phone in your bag or anywhere out of sight and focus on real, face-to-face interactions. No smartphone can ever replicate a hug.

Screen Shot 2016-04-05 at 10.55.34 AMCell phones have become a basic necessity but that doesn’t mean they should make us powerless. “Smartphones can be the ultimate frenemy,” explains therapist and addiction expert Paul Hokemeyer, Ph.D. in a recent interview with Shape. He advocates for dealing with phones in the same way we’d deal with a friend who doesn’t have our best interests at heart: by setting firm boundaries, exhibiting patience, and not allowing them to make us forget what truly matters most to us.


[1] Source: https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/artificial-maturity/201409/nomophobia-rising-trend-in-students

[2] Source: http://www.today.com/series/wired/smartphone-separation-anxiety-how-bad-yours-t20786

[3] Source: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/05/18/nomophobia-smartphone-sep_n_7266468.html

[4] Source: http://www.shape.com/lifestyle/mind-and-body/cell-phone-addiction-so-real-people-are-going-rehab-it