Suffering from ‘missing smartphone anxiety’?

At a time when a debate is raging about smartphone addiction among the millennials (those born after 1980), here comes a way to help you identify if you are suffering from a modern-day phobia: fear of being without your mobile phone.

To gauge if you are suffering from nomophobia (missing smartphone fear), scientists from Iowa State University have developed a set of questions to help you identify if you suffer from this.

In the study, participants were asked to respond to statements on a scale of one (strongly disagree) to seven (strongly agree). They interviewed nine students about their smartphone experiences and then developed a questionnaire based on these responses that was tested on 301 other students.

Caglar Yildirim, a PhD student in human computer interaction at the Iowa State University (ISU), and Ana-Paula Correia, an associate professor in ISU’s School of Education, identified four dimensions of this modern-day phobia.

These were: the fear of losing connectedness, not being able to communicate, not being able to access information and giving up the convenience, the university said in a statement.

The questionnaire includes statements such as “I would feel uncomfortable without constant access to information through my smartphone” or “I would be annoyed if I could not look information up on my smartphone when I wanted to do so”.

It also had questions like “Being unable to get the news (eg, happenings, weather, etc) on my smartphone would make me nervous” or “I would be annoyed if I could not use my smartphone and/or its capabilities when I wanted to do so”.

“Running out of battery in my smartphone would scare me”, “If I were to run out of credits or hit my monthly data limit, I would panic” and “If I did not have a data signal or could not connect to Wi-Fi, then I would constantly check to see if I had a signal or could find a Wi-Fi network” were other questions on the list.

The participants also answered statements like “If I could not use my smartphone, I would be afraid of getting stranded somewhere” and “If I could not check my smartphone for a while, I would feel a desire to check it”.

Another section of the questionnaire asked participants how they would react if they did not have their smartphone with them.

They responded to the statements like “I would feel anxious because I could not instantly communicate with my family and/or friends” and “I would feel nervous because I would not be able to receive text messages and calls.”

The team then calculated total scores by adding the responses to each item. The higher scores corresponded to greater nomophobia severity, the team noted in a paper published in the journal Computers in Human Behavior.

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