comscore FOMO is leading you to nomophobia, researchers explain why
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FOMO is leading you to nomophobia, researchers explain why

Nomophobia might not be listed officially as a psychological disorder, but it is impacting millions today.

Nomophobia--pixabay

When was the last time you freaked out realizing your phone was low on battery? Last evening when you were trying to post on Facebook, or may be this morning when you were streaming music. Do you freak out in a split of a second when you are unable to find your phone inside your bag? A latest study says that your fears are not unfounded. Also Read - Why smartphones must be classified as an essential product during COVID-19 lockdowns

Also Read - How is the Smartphone Industry Trend in 2021?

Researchers from Seoul’s Sungkyunkwan University have warned that the increased dependency on smartphones is linked to ‘nomophobia’ or the fear of not having your phone on you. The condition leads to increase in heart rate, anxiety, blood pressure, and unpleasant feelings. Also Read - Flipkart Smartphones Carnival sale: Deals on Apple, Samsung, Poco, Realme, more smartphones

In their study titled, Understanding Nomophobia: Structural Equation Modeling and Semantic Network Analysis of Smartphone Separation Anxiety, researchers Seunghee Han, Ki Joon Kim, and Jang Hyun Kim explain how users perceive their smartphones as an extension of their own selves and in turn, get attached to it. This eventually leads to nomophobia by heightening the phone proximity-seeking tendency. ALSO READ: The Bad, The Worse and The Worst of Social Media

To drive conclusions, researchers analyzed smartphone users’ verbal descriptions of the meaning of their smartphones. They discovered that personal memories evoked by smartphones encourage users to extend their identity onto their devices. The respondents described their smartphones with phrases such as, “If I lose my smartphone, I would feel like I have lost a little bit of myself”, “My smartphone symbolizes a bond with friends or family”, and more. The responses were even more interesting when it came to phone proximity-seeking tendency, the responses included something quite relatable, “I regularly check my smartphone even if it does not ring”, and “I feel bad when I leave my smartphone at home/when it runs out of battery”.

So for example, if you were given a smartphone as a gift, you might describe it as a special gift in a more personal manner, and eventually your proximity-seeking tendency to the device will be higher. Researchers further discovered that the words related to memory, self, and proximity-seeking are more frequently used in the high, compared with low, nomophobia group.

Interestingly, even as nomophobia is not formally listed as a psychological disorder, it could serve as an indicator to other social disorders or phobia for individuals with a strong dependency on communication through virtual environments. Researchers further warn that as your dependency on your smartphone increases, nomophobia is also likely to increase with the amount of time spent using the smartphone. ALSO READ: Excessive use of smartphones may delay speech development in toddlers: Study

So, what is it that you could do to avoid this modern-day psychological disorder? Researchers suggest that users should be conscious of not becoming overly dependent on smartphones while benefiting from the smartness of the technology. Meanwhile, Brenda K. Wiederhold, from Interactive Media Institute, California points out, Nomophobia, fear of missing out (FoMo), and fear of being offline (FoBo) all anxieties born of our new high-tech lifestyles may be treated similarly to other more traditional phobias. Turning off technology periodically can teach individuals to reduce anxiety and become comfortable with periods of disconnectedness. Perhaps it is time for you to go for a digital detox.

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  • Published Date: August 21, 2017 3:19 PM IST



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