Are you highly dependent on your smartphone? An indispensable tool of modern life, its excessive use is not without risk. A new Australian study shows that nomophobia – the fear of being away from your cell phone – can damage physical and mental health and lead to dangerous behavior.
Have you ever tried turning off your smartphone all day? Cell phones have become an integral part of our daily lives and obviously have many benefits, as long as we don’t become completely dependent on them. A new study by Australian researchers shows that nomophobia, which is characterized by an excessive fear of disconnecting from the cell phone, can be the cause of behaviors that are dangerous to one’s own health and the health of others.
Researchers at Monash University in Melbourne have studied nomophobia, a short of the phrase “no mobile phone phobia,” which is nothing more than the fear of being separated from one’s cell phone. It’s a condition that affects many more people than you might think, and can be dangerous both physically and mentally.
A new type of addiction
The study, published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, surveyed 2,838 participants about their usage habits, as well as their attachment to their smartphones. The study was conducted in Australia, where there are 109.6 cell phone subscriptions per 100 residents (compared to 103.5 per 100 residents worldwide). 99.2 percent of participants reported some form of nomophobia, specifically the fear of not having their phone with them. In detail: While more than eight in 10 subjects had mild to moderate levels of nomophobia, no less than 13.2 percent had severe levels.
The increase in phone use was directly related to the high level of nomophobia.
The researchers found that the higher the participants’ level of nomophobia, the more likely they were to engage in dangerous or even illegal behavior. Specifically, they found that more than four in 10 participants (43%) spent more than three hours per day on their phones and that increased use was directly related to high levels of nomophobia and a high risk of problematic, illicit, or even dangerous addiction.
Excessive smartphone use is not without risk
Not surprisingly, 18- to 25-year-olds had the highest levels of nomophobia, while men were twice as likely as women to unsafely use their phones. The study also shows that people with nomophobia were 10 times more likely to use their phone in a forbidden place and 14 times more likely to engage in unsafe behaviors with their smartphone, such as using it while driving.
“Our findings indicate that the fear of not having a cell phone can lead to problematic, prohibited and dangerous use, each of which can pose significant health risks, such as overuse, antisocial behavior, and careless use,” the researchers conclude.