Nomophobia - How You Can Claim Your Cell Phone Is Like A Service Dog

By ACSH Staff — Nov 07, 2015
A new questionnaire assesses fear of not having your smartphone - they call it nomophobia - no mobile phone phobia.

Group of young persons on their smartphones
Photo: Shutterstock

Far be it from an evidence-based group like the American Council on Science and Health to endorse a detox program but since we don't have digital kidneys, a smartphone cleanse may be the way to go for those with too many digital toxins.

Even the most organized people have forgotten their smartphones and many report feelings of dread. An informal survey of people in our office collated responses such as "Crap! Crap! Crap!", "Maybe I should go home for it?", "I can catch the next train", and "Sigh."

Yet some people in that situation discover they can survive an entire day without a cell phone. It may even be liberating. Perhaps, like with a diet or quitting smoking, that first day is the hardest.

This no mobile phone phobia, dread at not having technology, is the topic of recent research coming out of the University of Iowa. Like everything else, psychologists scrambled to give it a catchy name in hopes it will catch on and they'll get on The Dr. Oz Show (at least the old version, before we helped half of his audience get smarter and stop watching him - you are welcome, America) - so it is called nomophobia, the fear of being out of mobile phone contact.

Naturally they believe they can quantify this using self-reported surveys, which isn't scientific but that is why we're discussing this on a Saturday.

The qualitative phase of the study involved interviews with nine (yes, nine) undergraduate (yes, undergraduate) students who had experience with the phenomenon in question. They were asked questions regarding their relationship (yes, their relationship) with their smartphones. From this data, four dimensions of nomophobia were identified. This avoided the scholars being forced to come up with real things on their own they just collated the answers (not being able to communicate, losing connectedness) and called it the nomophobia questionnaire (NMP-Q) then handed it out to 301 psychology undergraduate students. Responses to each question were measured on a numeric scale from 1 to 7 corresponding with completely disagree to strongly agree respectively. The total score then led to a classification of the degree of nomophobia (mild, moderate, severe). Yes, you were going to have some form of it.

By the end of the quantitative phase of the study, researchers found that the four dimensions were connected to their hypothetical construct of nomophobia and that the NMP-Q produced what they considered valid and reliable scores.

So if you want to be able to use your smartphone during a movie and annoy everyone else, you now have a pathology you can invoke and can claim it's a medical issue, like those annoying people who now get to take their pets everywhere and claim it's the same as as a blind person's service dog.

But how long could you last without your phone? Interested in taking the NMP-Q survey and telling us the result in the comments?

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