How do I know if I suffer from ‘nomophobia’, an irrational fear of not having a mobile phone (or WhatsApp)?


In recent years, the use of mobile phones has grown exponentially, especially after the emergence of smart devices. These have become our pocket (and life) companions who accompany us wherever we go. However, excessive and non-rational use can cause problems of dependency, addiction and fear.

Nomophobia (non-mobile-phone-phobia) can be understood as an extreme fear or anxiety of an irrational nature that originates when the person remains for a period of time without being able to use their mobile phone. Either for not having it within reach or for having exhausted the battery, data plan or inability to connect to a Wi-Fi network.

What are the causes of nomophobia?

Currently, the most widespread hypothesis to analyze this problem proposes that fear can occur due to four main factors : inability to communicate with others, loss of connection, inability to access information, and renunciation of comfort.

As an example, a nomophobic behavior would be that of a person who has forgotten his phone at home when going out and, when he realizes it, begins to feel overwhelmed, afraid or paralyzed. If the reason is that you cannot instantly communicate with others or do not know if someone is trying to communicate with him or her, you will need to analyze whether it is a behavior related to nomophobia.

It can also happen due to not being able to instantly consult the different notifications that are sent through applications that we have installed on the device.

Unlike dependence, nomophobia can be conceived as a more extreme fear that ends up hindering and hindering the person’s daily life, especially when they cannot make instant use of the mobile.

There are several studies that show that a significant percentage of people from different groups (students of different pre-university educational stages , teachers , nursing , doctors , etc.) suffer from this problem.

recent review of studies shows that nomophobia negatively affects an individual’s personality, self-esteem, anxiety, stress, and academic performance. In addition, it can cause other physical and mental health problems.

Who is more susceptible to suffering from nomophobia?

There are several variables that can be predictors of nomophobia and that have been used in this recent study. Among them, interpersonal sensitivity, obsessive compulsive behavior and the amount of daily hours dedicated to using the mobile phone stand out.

On the other hand, age (it is especially frequent in adolescents) and poor lifestyle habits, such as a worse diet or the sacrifice of hours of sleep , are factors that also affect the development of this phobia.

More research is needed to study this phenomenon. But it has already established itself as one of the most common pathologies that have been born after the digital revolution of recent times.

Consequences of the fear of not having a mobile

Current research shows that suffering from this problem can lead to other derived circumstances. For example, having worse eating habits, a decrease in rest time, social isolation, lower performance both in studies and at work and greater distraction.

It can also lead to certain health problems . For example, carpal tunnel syndrome (excessive pressure on the median nerve in the wrist that allows sensation and movement to parts of the hand) could develop. But also other mental conditions such as social phobia, hyperactivity or depression .

To prevent this problem from affecting our physical and mental well-being, it is necessary to develop educational programs from an early age that are committed to a rational use of mobile devices. This implies the need to implement adequate digital competence and critical awareness regarding the use of information and communication technologies.

In turn, it is recommended that the person in question do a self-analysis of the daily time spent using their mobile phone. In this reflection, the purposes of their use should also be evaluated, thus analyzing their behavior in this regard.

Based on self-awareness, the subject can decide if he needs to make adjustments in the time he spends on his mobile. And, if necessary, if you need help from third parties.

Therefore, if you think that your daily life is affected by the type of use you make of your phone and this is causing you problems, it is possible that you have a dependency on this device that could lead to nomophobia if you do not solve the problem. situation.

Author Bio: Antonio-Manuel Rodríguez-García is Assistant Professor Doctor (Didactics and School Organization) at the University of Granada