Do our smartphones create more stress or relieve stress? Do you ever lose your cool when you search your pocket or your purse and can’t locate your cell phone? Then this terrible feeling comes over you? Sure, now we can track the phone down from the smartwatch or computer. But, worst case scenario, the phone can indeed be stolen or dropped into an irretrievable place. The inability to locate one’s smart phone can indeed stir up quite a lot of anxiety.
There’s a term for that, sort of a new buzzword: nomophobia. People are becoming increasingly attached to electronic devices. We’ve all heard the common term “FOMO,” fear of missing out, and that kind of fear contributes to more specific phobias, like nomophobia, meaning “no mobile phone phobia.” It’s a kind of anxiety and nervousness, even anguish, experienced by being out of contact with a mobile phone. People who have anxiety and/or panic disorders may be more vulnerable to distress in the absence of the phone. So many of us stress out by seeing the red bar indication of battery loss and drop everything in order to recharge the phone.
Some researchers are proposing that the term “nomophobia” be included in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) under “anxiety disorders/specific phobias. Nomophobia can not only result in mental issues, but research also indicates that it can cause physical problems, too, like neck pain and stiffness and ear pain and migraines and memory problems.
Research shows that digital overload is becoming one of the defining problems of our world today. All day long we are bombarded with texts, emails, alerts, and messages. Our mobile devices allow us to access endless information. All the options can be forever tempting: surfing social networking sites and dating sites and gaming sites and Amazon shopping and all places in between. Even sleeping with one’s cell phone is not so uncommon. What?
Almost anything can become an addiction. The thing is that people with mobile phone dependency share the same sort of addictive tendencies as people with substance related addictions. The difference in the therapy is that the goal is control, rather than abstinence.
The very technology we all love to love can actually spin out of control and be detrimental to our mental and physical health. While technology has incredible benefits, the severity of attachment to our sophisticated devices can turn into addiction, and ultimately manifest itself as a phobia. The bottom line is that we are going to e forced to pay more attention to the power technology has over our good health and well-being.
Many of us may need a reminder that the smart phone is not a part of our bodies. Take it easy. Turn it off. Leave it at home once in a while. Life really can still happen without it. Even theoretical physicist Albert Einstein, who was born way back in 1879, left us this warning:
“The human spirit must prevail over technology.”