In 2008, the term nomophobia was coined after a UK poll showed a large number of Britons experienced feelings of anxiety when they didn’t have their cell phones near them. The problem just seems to be growing – and not just in the UK. A 2012 poll by Rogers Communications found that 65% of Canadian cell phone users report feeling “naked” without their phones. Studies in the US have found that an increasing number of Americans are using their smartphones around the clock, going so far as to take the devices into the bathroom and even into bed at night.
Nomophobia may not cause any serious symptoms, but it can turn you into that person – the one who uses their phone in completely inappropriate situations. More seriously, being too reliant on a mobile device can be deadly if you are driving a car and cannot stay away from your iPhone long enough to resist checking a message. If you need to break the habit, consider the following tips:
1) Have a screen-off time. Having scheduled time – such as a Sunday or every day for one hour in the evening – with no smartphone or other devices allows you to get away from your mobile phone and take a breather. It may seem strange at first, but it will remind you that the world does not screech to a halt when you are not connected. No-screen time also leaves you free to pursue other pursuits.
2) Practice good smartphone etiquette. There’s nothing wrong with having your mobile device near you – just in case – like a security blanket. However, having it on all the time so you can take messages and calls is a problem. You don’t want to be the rude person whose phone rings during a religious service, live performance, or movie.
3) Turn your mobile phone off when you put it away. This way, your ringtone won’t cut into conversations or quiet time. Get into the habit of checking your mobile phone privately a few times a day. Productivity experts like Tim Ferriss actually recommend checking messages and email just twice a day or less, arguing that it actually frees up more time for actual work.
4) Make sure you are cultivating more in-person relationships than phone time. If you have a closer relationship with your smartphone than your loved ones, something is awry. You should be spending more time in-person with those you love – not just talking to them on the phone.
If you feel anxiety when you are away from your smartphone or have trouble committing to even a few hours of screen-off time a week, you may wish to take a break. Having too much anxiety about your mobile phone defeats the whole purpose – tech is supposed to make your life better and more productive, not miserable. Start taking a few steps today to wean yourself away from your phone addiction. A richer life awaits.
Sam Jones, the author, thinks that even the best smartphone can cause us problems but their utility is hard to deny!