The researchers found that it’s not the anxiety of being unable to make a phone call, but rather our personalization of smartphones and the bond that comes from capturing and sharing memories on them, that leads to nomophobia.
“As smartphones evoke more personal memories, users extend more of their identity onto their smartphones,” the researchers said. “When users perceive smartphones as their extended selves, they are more likely to become attached to the devices, which, in turn, leads to nomophobia by heightening the phone proximity-seeking tendency.”
For the study, which was published in the journal Cyberpsychology, Behavior and Social Networking, the researchers surveyed over 300 South Korean students who reported high levels of dependence on their cell phones.
The students’ language was analyzed, and those who demonstrated higher levels of nomophobia tended to use words like “memory,” “I,” “my,” and “to me” more frequently. These students also reported a far greater frequency of neck and wrist pains, and were more likely to get distracted from their studies and work, the study found.
Symptoms of nomophobia include:
- Being unable to turn off your cell phone
- Obsessively checking the device
- Charging the battery even when it’s not necessary
- Taking your phone into the bathroom with you
The researchers concluded with one simple piece of advice for anyone who thinks they may be addicted to their cell phone or any other device – turn it off for awhile. It is possible, believe it or not. Try picking up a book or having a real conversation for a change.