Gina Mei
May 11, 2015 2:53 pm

It’s safe to say that as a society, we’re constantly plugged in. We’ve all experienced the rush of anxiety when we realize we’ve forgotten our phones at home (or elsewhere) — but it turns out that phone FOMO might just be a bigger deal than we originally thought.

Nomophobia, the fear of being without your phone (aka “no-mobile-phone phobia”), was first coined during a 2010 study on the anxieties of phone users by UK-based research organization YouGov. It might seem laughable at first — we all know someone who seems like they couldn’t live without their smartphones — but nomophobia is quickly becoming a legitimate and recognized form of separation anxiety.

In a study that will be published in the August edition of Computers in Human Behavior, Caglar Yildirim and Ana-Paula Correia, social psychologists at Iowa State University, hoped to further shed light on how nomophobia affects young adults.

The first thing they did was isolate the themes or “dimensions” of the phobia. They noticed those deprived of their phone had difficulty communicating, felt disconnected, were unable to access information, and experienced an overall loss of convenience.  From there, the pair created the Nomophobia Questionnaire (NMP-Q), a way for individuals to self-measure the extent of their phone addiction.

Basically, you can figure out how addicted to your phone you are based on 20 true/false statement questions — and yes, it’s a little unnerving. The survey, which NYMag first obtained, doesn’t provide a scorecard. We’ll just assume if you answer “true” way more than “false,” you’re just as hooked on your phone as we are.

Yildirim and Correia argue that since nomophobia can be considered a situational phobia, it should be included in the psychiatric bible—The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5) — and their survey can be used to help diagnose it. Check out more information on the study here or look out for it in the August edition of Computers in Human Behavior. (Until then, we’ll be working on weaning ourselves off our smartphones.)

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