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Nomophobia: A growing fear in the modern world

 The pandemic has limited our movement and contact with the real world. Smartphones are connecting us with the world right now. There was a drastic increase in the number of hours spent on the phone after the first lockdown in March 2020.  Phone is our source of information, entertainment, socializing virtually and even attending classes. From work to leisure activity, everything is done on our phone. Our daily routine revolves around technology in this “new normal''. We all find it extremely difficult to be detached from our phone these days. 

What is Nomophobia?

People have become so used to the habit of checking their phone constantly that they find it hard to keep their phone aside. Not being able to check the notifications on the phone immediately makes them anxious and builds up stress. We struggle to spend a minute without checking the social media updates. 

Nomophobia refers to the fear, discomfort, or anxiety of being out of contact with the mobile phone. In simpler words it means “No mobile phone phobia”. This fear is normal. But when the fear is severe and continuous, it can be problematic. It can affect our day-to-day behaviour and action. Young adults are the most vulnerable group affected by smartphone addiction. 

The term was coined during a UK based research which aimed to study the possibility of anxiety disorders due to excessive use of mobile phones in 2008. The main cause of their phobia was the fear of losing connectivity with their near and dear ones. 

Nomophobia can impact our body physically and mentally. Physically, it can affect our eyesight, headache, disturbed sleep. A study by the International Journal of Research and Innovation in Social Science has established a relationship between Nomophobia and physical health. People who had the symptoms and felt anxious without the phone were experiencing headache, disturbance in sleeping and other such problems.

Its mental implications include lack of concentration, stress, irritation and anger. A research by the International Journal of Indian Psychology has found a positive correlation between Nomophobia and anger.   

Developing a "Stopping rule" to limit the hours spent using the phone, replacing some screen time with another hobby, and spending time on meditation are some of the preventive measures suggested in the studies. Some other suggestions include having a "no phone day" once in a week if possible and taking breaks frequently, especially for gamers. 

There is no doubt that a phone is a really useful device that can be used for a variety of purposes. But it is important to be aware of phone addiction because too much dependency on any device has its own consequences . 

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