This relatively new condition is also one of the most – if not the most – prevalent in the Western world.

Like most phobias, sufferers report bouts of severe anxiety and irrational fear.

According to a recent survey, as many as 66% of us suffer Nomophobia. But what is it?

Nomophobia is also known as No Mobile Phone Phobia and is characterized by:

  • An inability to ever turn your phone off
  • Obsessively checking for missed calls, emails and texts
  • Constantly topping up your battery life
  • Being unable to pop to the bathroom without taking your phone in with you.

Whilst you may not recognize these habits in yourself, how about the kids in your life? The constant need to feel connected or see that their latest photo or status update is liked.

Many teens report that the first thing they do when they get up is check their phone, which is usually bedside. They also report doing the same thing last thing at night before going to sleep.

Just this week Generation Next speaker Michael Carr-Gregg called for teenagers to sit a license style test before being allowed access to smartphone technology. I wonder what areas would be covered in such a license. I suspect it would revolve around safe social media habits, abiding by a set of rules and responsibilities.

Of equal importance is addressing the behaviours outlined above, and as with most behaviours, role-modelling is of paramount importance. And parents do most of the role-modelling in this regard.

During the last couple of years, in virtually every parent teacher interview I’ve had, phones have rung, buzzed or flashed. And in most of those instances, parents take the call or respond to the text message – it’s always, “very important – sorry, I’ll switch it off now.”

Next time you’re sitting on a plane taxiing to the terminal, see how fast people reach for their iPhones once the captain says it’s ok to do so. The captain may as well don a cowboy hat, chew on some tobacco and say, “Draw!”

At the top of this piece I said, “Whilst you may not recognize these habits in yourself.”

The fact is you probably do.

But is it such a bad thing? Is it really something we need to worry about?

If it’s causing genuine anxiety then perhaps yes – it is.

Try switching your mobile off for an hour, a day, or a weekend. See how you feel.

 

Author: Dan Haesler, he is a teacher, writer and speaker at the Mental Health & Wellbeing of Young People seminars He writes for the Sydney Morning Herald and blogs at http://danhaesler.com/ and tweets at @danhaesler