Do you panic or get irritated when your phone’s battery is dying or you’re having network issues?
Well, chances are that you are suffering from smartphone separation anxiety. A big drawback of this is that most of us are either unaware that we have it, or worse, are unwilling to accept it.
What research says
Researchers have deemed that smartphone separation anxiety is set to become an increasingly widespread problem. Also known as nomophobia, the term describes the feeling of panic or stress some folks experience when they’re unable to access or use their mobile phone. But according to new research, it has little to do with being unable to make or receive phone calls.Scientists from the City University of Hong Kong and the Sungkyunkwan University in Seoul, South Korea, say the reason is that smartphones are so advanced and personal to us that they’ve actually become an extension of ourselves. Besides storing meaningful photos and messages, mobiles act as a window to a wide range of apps, websites and services that let people quickly access content that’s important to them.
The research said, “As smartphones evoke more personal memories, users extend more of their identity onto their smartphones,” adding, “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.” Though the scientists used a small sample group of 300 students in South Korea for their study, and admitted that it might not be wholly representative of all smartphone users, they believe smartphone separation anxiety will become a much bigger issue for people in the future, as technology becomes even more personalised and our dependency increases on it. The researchers added, “Recent smartphone and app development seems to inevitably increase users’ attachment, as the technology and related services become increasingly personalised and customisable.”
Do our experts agree with the study? “Have you met anyone who doesn’t have a smartphone?” asks Mansi Hasan, clinical psychologist and psychotherapist, tobacco treatment specialist, adding that smartphones have become one of the biggest addictions of our generation. She agrees with the study and that smartphones are not just phones but an extension of the owner’s identity.
Young and old addicted to smartphones.“People are reluctant to admit that they are addicted to their smartphones and usually these problems are not the primary concerns they come in with for help. The most common ages that people are usually brought in by their parents is 10-year-olds to young adults,” informs psychiatrist and psychotherapist, Dr Anjali Chhabria, adding that there have been a few cases of people aged 45 and above also are addicted to their smartphones.
One in four people Hasan meets
displays a smartphone dependence, which may or may not result in smartphone separation anxiety. So, the dependence numbers are high. But, one in 20 people definitely shows trends of smartphone separation anxiety, varying from mild to severe. “The most common age group that is affected is teenagers followed by the age group of 22-35 and then those between the ages of 40-55 years. People above the age of 45 also show addiction symptoms because smartphones have become the best source of distraction from stress, and the easiest way to connect with others,” she says.
Causes of Smartphone Addiction
Smartphones have become so important that we are unable to function without them. Our contacts, mails, communication, entertainment, socialising, sharing, getting information, work, personal life, social life is all dependent on one gadget. Of course, one may panic if one fine day this gadget crashes as if our entire life depends on it! The cause of anxiety is the high dependence and addiction it causes, explains Hasan.
Coping with it
Dr Chhabria says that it’s essential to understand that the smartphone is just another gadget used by us when needed. Phones are replacing real-time conversations, thus, wherever one finds that using phones can be avoided, do so. Keeping yourself busy with activities that don’t require the phone also helps in realising that life without the phone is possible.
Symptoms that your are ADDICTED to your Smartphone!
- Fear and anxiety of losing the phone
- Checking and rechecking the phone
- Feelings of panic (heart racing, sweating, palpitation) when the phone is inaccessible
- Carrying extra chargers, power banks to ensure the phone is charged at all times. Even carrying multiple phones
- Irritability and anger in the absence of the phone, even if it may be for a short interval
- Excessive use of the phone, which leads to reduced efficiency, relationship conflicts and cognitive malfunctioning