Cell Phone Addiction
There’s a clever new word popping up on the Internet and in news reports. It’s “nomophobia,” a combination of NO + MOre + PHone and the root “phobia” for an irrational fear. Although it’s not in the official dictionary yet, it does have a Wiki entry. Just as the parts imply, nomophobia is the irrational fear of being without your cell phone, and it has spawned an associated addiction.
This is one of those “addictions” that bridge the gap between a bad habit and the traditional way we would describe an addiction. For some people, it might actually rise to the level of an obsessive disorder, but for most, that would be a stretch. The symptoms, according to reports are:
* Never turning the phone off because of a fear of missing calls or a feeling of a loss of connection to the outside world
* Obsessive checking for messages and updates
* Taking the phone with you to inappropriate places – not just talking/texting while driving, but in the bathroom or having it close (and on) while you shower.
* Allowing the phone to interrupt more important parts of your life
* Obsessive worry about the battery life and fear the phone might lose power – constant topping off of the battery to prevent this.
Some of the essential elements of an addiction do seem to be there. A craving for and worry about being without, and promoting the behavior above other, more important parts of your life. But it still seems a stretch to call it an addiction rather than a bad habit.
The behavior does seem to be on the rise however. As those used to having a cell phone as part of their life increase as a percentage of the population, so too does the number of people who meet the criteria. Estimates are as high as 66 percent of users feel some anxiety when they don’t have ready access to their phones, and this is up 13% from four years ago. (These numbers were not cited and no information about the veracity or method used in the survey was given.)
If nothing else, we’ll gain a cool new word to slip into conversations. “Don’t mind her, she’s nomophobic.”