Do you have nomophobia? (Photo: Cornelia Schauermann/ Corbis)
It’s a sad fact of life that most of us are at least a little bit hooked on our phones.
But how bad is our addiction? Researchers from Iowa State University have devised a quiz that can tell whether it’s a serious problem.
The test was evaluated on more than 300 people, and the results showed that it’s an accurate predictor of whether a person actually has nomophobia, i.e. the fear of being without a phone. The study results were recently published in the journal Computers in Human Behavior.
The test involves ranking how strongly you disagree (designated by “1” on a scale of 1 to 7) or agree (designated by “7” on the scale) with 20 statements. Your result is calculated by totaling the response numbers, with the higher the score corresponding to a greater level of nomophobia.
Want to figure out how bad your nomophobia is? Try the test out for yourself:
- I would feel uncomfortable without constant access to information through my smartphone.
- I would be annoyed if I could not look information up on my smartphone when I wanted to do so.
- Being unable to get the news (e.g., happenings, weather, etc.) on my smartphone would make me nervous.
- 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.
- 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.
- If I could not use my smartphone, I would be afraid of getting stranded somewhere.
- If I could not check my smartphone for a while, I would feel a desire to check it.
If I did not have my smartphone with me:
- I would feel anxious because I could not instantly communicate with my family and/or friends.
- I would be worried because my family and/or friends could not reach me.
- I would feel nervous because I would not be able to receive text messages and calls.
- I would be anxious because I could not keep in touch with my family and/or friends.
- I would be nervous because I could not know if someone had tried to get a hold of me.
- I would feel anxious because my constant connection to my family and friends would be broken.
- I would be nervous because I would be disconnected from my online identity.
- I would be uncomfortable because I could not stay up-to-date with social media and online networks.
- I would feel awkward because I could not check my notifications for updates from my connections and online networks.
- I would feel anxious because I could not check my email messages.
- I would feel weird because I would not know what to do.
- 20: No nomophobia
- 21-60: Mild nomophobia
- 60-100: Moderate nomophobia
- 101-140: Severe nomophobia
But keep this in mind: While most people probably feel strongly about a few of the statements, it doesn’t necessarily mean you have nomophobia. Lead study author Caglar Yildirim, a researcher at Iowa State University, tells Yahoo Health that there is a difference between simply using your smartphone a lot and having nomophobia.
The dependence on your phone becomes an issue and veers into nomophobia territory when it interferes with your daily routine and leads to a preoccupation with your phone, he explains.
But nomophobia also comes with other markers, including an irrational fear of being away from your phone and unable to check it, the sudden urge to check your phone regardless of whether there was a buzz or notification that you got a message, and having difficulty waiting to check your phone in situations where you shouldn’t, like during a meeting or conversation with a person.
If this sounds like you, Yildirim says there are a few things you can do to cope:
- Set “no smartphones” zones in situations like dining with others or during face-to-face interactions with people.
- Put your phone down for a while and try to gradually increase the amount of time you can be without your phone.
- Turn your phone’s Wi-Fi off regularly. “It is likely that notifications from our social media, emails, etc., contribute to nomophobia,” says Yildirim. “Turning off Wi-Fi on a regular basis may help people cope better.”
But nomophobia or not, Yildirim says we don’t need to let go of our phones: “It is not possible or logical to ban smartphone use.”
Like it or not, smartphones are part of our lives — we just need to be smart about using them.
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